On Sept. 12-14, Salvador, the capital of the Brazilian state of Bahia, took a deep dive into the topic of education by hosting the National Meeting of the Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This year’s event, for which the Odebrecht Foundation was a key sponsor, gathered over 800 educational professionals from Brazil and around the world, as well as the students and heads of educational institutions, who discussed day-to-day issues in education and global topics such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
During the three-day event, the Odebrecht Foundation welcomed attendees at its interactive booth, where they could learn about the institution’s efforts to foster sustainable development and learn firsthand about the educational experience offered by Family Houses, which are vocational high schools supported by the Odebrecht Foundation in the Southern Bahia Lowlands. In addition to talking with students about the educational model that combines theory and practice to teach agricultural techniques, visitors to the booth could participate in a virtual reality experience with a 360-degree movie.
The Agroforestry Family House (Cfaf), the Rural Family House of Igrapiúna (CFR-I) and the Rural Family House of Presidente Tancredo Neves (CFR-PTN) have been members of the UNESCO ASPnet network since 2015. In addition to students from the three institutions, directors and faculty members also were present, who participated in plenary meetings and shared knowledge with other educators.
“It’s an honor to be here, because I’m representing my class”, said álvaro Fernando, a third-year student at Cfaf. The student watched the 360-degree video and was satisfied with the result. “It’s very interesting to have content like that available to the public so that they can see how we’re developing in rural areas”. About the opportunity for the public to see firsthand the routines of these youth, Tailã de Souza, an educational advisor and Portuguese teacher at CFR-I, said, “It’s so important to see so many people interested in learning about our history”.
Network for education
“UNESCO ASPnet is an event that brings together the education universe to address the latest topics that should be discussed and internalized by the schools. We will use what we learned here to further youth’s development”, said Quionei Araújo, the principal at CFR-PTN. According to Joana Almeida, Bahia Regional Coordinator of UNESCO ASPnet, a highlight of the meeting was the moment when the new members participated in the program. “There were many challenges and great partnerships forged. Today, the ASPnet network takes on a new dimension by engaging new schools, whether in rural or quilombola communities or in public or private schools”.
Going beyond merely presenting to the public the work being carried out in the Southern Bahia Lowlands, the Odebrecht Foundation’s participation in the event was an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to education. “This is a topic with which we always have had a connection. We believe in the power of education and in the potential of people, as affirmed in the foundation’s own mission, which is to educate for Life, through Work, promote Values and surmount Limits. The foundation is commemorating its 30th anniversary this year”, explained Cristiane Nascimento, Sustainability Director at the Odebrecht Foundation.
Myriam Tricate, National Coordinator of UNESCO ASPnet, visited the foundation’s booth and interacted with youth from the Family Houses. “It’s very important to see students participating in this Meeting,” she said. Other educators also appeared moved by the educational projects that encourage youth engagement in the Southern Bahia Lowlands, like Louisa Schroter, Coordinator of the high school Colégio Catarinense in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina. “It is a very innovative project with social relevance, because it influences the surrounding community. This is an initiative that shows how the private sector can make a positive contribution to developing education”, she said.
“Guided by our mission to educate, we hope to be able to participate in future meetings as relevant as this one, which contributes with much knowledge and positive experiences that have a big impact on improving education in Brazil. Focusing on education, especially that of young people, always has been the foundation’s primary purpose, which each day is strengthened by the actions of the institutions we support and by the commitment to and engagement in the cause by our partners and social investors”, said Fábio Wanderley, Superintendent of the Odebrecht Foundation.