Schools Of The World: Favela Schools of Rio

Our working conditions and circumstances can never be perfect and we all have plenty to cope with but spare a thought for the teachers and children who live in some of the toughest places on Earth. They put workload and wellbeing into true perspective.

Labelled the ‘city of children without a future’, Rio de Janeiro is not a place to flourish and achieve your potential because parts of it resemble a war zone. With so many shootings schools often have to close. These are the places where teachers have had to create an app to effectively keep education alive when children can’t get to school.

The gaps between the education available to Brazil’s poor and the country’s rich are huge and the favela children have the odds stacked against them. Some of the poorest children do not attend school.

Imagine the stress and fear of living in a crowded and dirty ghetto or favela where being shot is a very real possibility. Imagine being at a school in an environment where danger lurks around every corner. Imagine having no playground to play in. These are the places where several criminal gangs are fighting each other for control of territory and innocent people are stuck in the cross-fire.

As Melo (2018) notes,

…crime and the permissiveness of violence—combined with the chronic lack of services, deep socio-economic deprivation, and a culture of marginalisation of the poor—have, for much of the city’s recent history, confined the majority of its 1,4 million residents to invisibility and intense social exclusion.

Unsurprisingly, living in fear and being surrounded by violence doesn’t make for happy learning. Children face obstacles in the favelas that are off the scale compared to anywhere else. If you are frightened then you can’t think and you can’t learn.

The teachers who work in Rio deserve 1000 times more than they get but they are not well-paid. They work in dreadful contexts, schools lack investment and some schools lack teaching staff.

There are 750 favela’s spread across Rio and one of the most dangerous places is Complexo da Maré, an agglomeration of 16 favelas in Rio’s North Zone, the largest complex of favelas in the city. This is an area wracked by gang violence. Then there is Complexo do Alemão, a place where a shooting occurs every 30 hours.

As reported by the BBC, Roberta de Sousa, a teacher in Mare says the frequent outbreaks of violence seriously undermine the children’s performance and self-esteem:

They go to school hoping it will lead to a better life, but instead, violence invades the walls. They feel that here, too, they are abandoned as citizens and aren’t entitled to their basic rights.

Incredibly, Ms Sousa has had shoot-outs raging outside her classroom so says she has had to switch classrooms or seek refuge in the school corridors fear that bullets would come through the windows.

As Ernesto Londoño reports for the Independent, “For teachers in this seaside megacity, Rio de Janeiro’s surge in violence has meant making a life-or-death judgement call with unnerving frequency: deciding whether to cancel classes because of nearby shootouts.”

Take a look at the following video about ‘a school for slum children’ to get a further insight:

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