Balancing theory and practice
Based on the educational model of Alternance Pedagogy, the Family Houses bolster the DIS Southern Lowlands program’s human capital
Written by: Vivian Barbosa
Photos by: Eduardo Moody
Camila Ventura and João David Madureira: knowledge multipliers
A little over a year ago, Camila Ventura, age 20, was one of the 35 young people chosen to study at the Sea Family House (CFM) in the Southern Bahia Lowlands town of Cairu. She had great expectations: “I believed that this opportunity would bring me professional and personal development,” she recalls. Camila also had a dream. She wanted to give her mother and grandmother a better life – they share a home together – and somehow make a contribution to her community’s growth. Now, Camila divides her time between the social projects she carries out in Barra dos Carvalhos, in the Bahian town of Nilo Peçanha, where she was born and raised, and the theoretical and practical classes she takes at CFM. “I spend one week boarding at the school and two weeks on my farm, applying what I’ve learned with the help of school monitors,” she says proudly.
The educational model known as Alternance Pedagogy originated in France and ensures that knowledge acquired at the Family House is transferred to families and communities, thereby introducing new standards of quality and productivity on their farms. “We have studied the coastal ecosystems, cooperativism, horticulture, shellfish farming and the organization of social projects. We can’t wait for the handicrafts classes to get started in the next few months,” says Camila.
In addition to the CFM, there are three other projects that use the same teaching method – the Presidente Tancredo Neves Rural Family Houses, the Nilo Peçanha Agroforestry Family House and the Igrapiúna Rural Family House – to bolster human capital through the Program for the Integrated and Sustainable Regional Development of the Southern Bahia Lowlands (DIS Southern Lowlands). About 270 young people are being groomed as agents of local development, learning to have an entrepreneurial outlook and being encouraged to take a leading role in their own future.
One of Camila’s classmates, João David Madureira, age 20, says he has always done social work in Galeão, a district of Cairu where he lives with his parents. “But the projects I worked on were one-off things, and I didn’t have a clear idea that they were doing any good. Thanks to what I’m learning, I have a much clearer outlook and I can plan things more efficiently,” says João. He founded and supports the Essenciart theater group, as well as running a reforestation project that is attracting foreign visitors interested in ecotourism. “I’m here at the CFM to learn and share that knowledge with my community. I’m made aware of that important role on a daily basis,” he explains.
The Family Houses teach through work and the curriculum is adapted to the situation on the ground. Students learn geometry based on calculations of planted fields, and geography by analyzing different soil types. “When I joined the Family House, I couldn’t understand why the Odebrecht Foundation was investing in youth programs. Now, I realize that the institution believes in our potential and that we didn’t lack talent. We just lacked opportunities,” says João.
The Youth House educational complex in Igrapiúna rounds out the programs that are taking quality education to the countryside. It includes the Youth House Municipal School, run in partnership with the municipal government, and the Youth House State High School, a partnership between the Youth House OSCIP (Civil Society Organization) and the State of Bahia Department of Education. About a thousand children, adolescents and adults are enrolled at the Youth House Complex, ranging from primary to high school. Youth House uses the traditional teaching method and is organized as a model for public education in the Southern Bahia Lowlands region, with a focus on professional education. Through the OSCIP, and with the Odebrecht Foundation’s help, the teachers take classes aimed at developing an educational technology focused on the rural community’s needs.
“We are helping these young people to stay put in the places where they were born and want to keep living,” observes Liliana Leite, the Director of the Institute for the Sustainable Development of the Southern Bahia Lowlands (IDES), which is responsible for directing and consolidating the DIS Southern Lowlands projects that develop human and social capital. “In the future, they will form well-structured, solid families that will bring about real social, political and economic change wherever they live,” says the director.