Portugal: In 2008, a group of parents from children of the local Waldorf kindergarten Infancia Viva decided it was time to go further with Waldorf education. Together they created the Escola Livre do Algarve, which opened with just one class and nine children. Despite all the difficulties, the school community felt very confident and managed to open the first state-recognized Waldorf School at the Primary Level in Portugal. The initiative was so convincing that the school was provided with an abandoned school building by the authorities. Currently, the school is growing by one class each year and has received the official recognition for class 6 in 2015.
Thanks to donations but also through the practical help of young people from Waldorf schools in Germany and the Netherlands, who worked on the school building and in the school garden during summer camps, the school has been able to grow internally and externally.
Since the school building is bursting at the seams, and so far no other suitable school building could be found, additional accommodation containers were acquired to serve as classrooms. Thanks to the strong will, new ideas, skilful hands and dedication of parents and teachers, this "temporary solution" has developed to become a vibrant place with simple but practical equipment.
Since the opening of school great emphasis has been placed on creating a beautiful learning environment. So now there is a large open area for games and sports and a lot of flowers and ornamental plants beautify the exterior. They are cared for on a daily basis by the children, teachers and parents. In addition, various vegetables and some grain is grown under the responsibility of class three in the school’s own garden.
The interest in Waldorf education in the Algarve region is growing more and more. A community of mainly Portuguese teachers and families is currently laying the foundations for the further development of the initiatives. Lectures and workshops on social and medical issues as well as courses in arts and handwork convey the values and essence of Waldorf education. On one hand, they represent an important opportunity for fundraising and on the other hand also provide space for both practical and intellectual learning.
The current economic crisis in Portugal, of course, also has an impact on the school. For many parents, it is very difficult to pay the school fees and the school currently cannot hope to get financial support from the state. Nevertheless, the school wants to establish the middle and upper levels by the school year 2018/2019 and continue on the development path for classes six through nine by ensuring state recognition, the necessary infrastructure and faculty.