Verbal or physical violence affected 42% of Brazil’s public school students in 2015. This is the figure revealed by the survey conducted by the Ministry of Education, which heard 6,709 students all over the country. An initiative is working to change this reality and may be able to serve as an example. It is the Culture of Mediation at School Project, promoted by the Rights and Citizenship Institute (IDC), an institution supported by the Odebrecht Foundation through the PDCIS Program.
Held at the Edvaldo Machado Municipal High School, located in the Bahia municipality of Presidente Tancredo Neves, the initiative encourages the practice of conflict mediation in the quest to increase respect for diversity and the culture of peace. There are currently some 740 children and adolescents age 10-16 who participate in the project’s socio-educational workshops, made possible in 2016 with funds raised during the foundation’s last Tribute to the Future Program campaign. Once a month, students are encouraged to engage in practical activities focused on the topic.
“We want them to exercise what has been learned, contributing toward a society where people know how to communicate better and to resolve their conflicts peacefully,” said Mariene Barbosa, Coordinator of the action through IDC. For Genice Andrade, the high school’s Principal, the numbers of offences and fights have already dropped. “The team is always concerned with building a closer relationship with the parents and we have seen a change in students’ behavior, especially in the classroom,” said Andrade. Besides the activities, the meetings with those responsible are also part of the scope of operations. “We feel motivated when family and school propose to work together, handin-hand,” said Andrade.