Brazil: The Waldorf School in Barra Grande is located in a small fishermen’s village that is part of the Maraú Peninsula. The southern region of Bahia is very rich in well preserved natural beauties, such as beaches, coral barriers, islands and tropical forest. Amidst this rich natural environment that attracts many tourists, Jardim do Cajuero is situated with its kindergarten and first grade.
Since a few years, the expansion of the tourist’s flow has been pushing the local development. However, this development has not been accompanied by processes that strengthen social and cultural inclusion of the local population. On the contrary, it has been causing a process of loss of property by the natives and loss of local identity, which increase the social gaps, and therefore, the exclusion. Still, half of the population in Barra Grande is not able to read and write and the region suffers under a high unemployment rate.
The comprehensive school Jardim do Cajueiro was brought into being in 2006 through a local initiative of parents who wanted a better future for their children. The organization "Action for Development" supports sustainable educational projects in Barra Grande and helped the school with their construction work. Furthermore, two teachers from the Micael School in São Paulo provided additional help in the beginning stages.
Initially 36 children aged between three and six attended the two kindergarten groups. Right at the beginning two teachers from Barra Grande were able to complete a Waldorf teacher training in Rio de Janeiro. Up to today, about 80 children went through kindergarten and in 2011, Jardim do Cajueiro introduced its first grade.
Nearly three-quarters of the children come from disadvantaged backgrounds. At present the school community supports these families. The comprehensive school’s mission is to create a healthy environment, particularly for children living in poverty and social exclusion. A further aim is to improve the children’s personal skills so that they may contribute to a balanced future social development in Barra Grande.
The school community of Jardim do Cajueiro receives no government funding. In the first years of its existence, the founding, operational and maintenance costs of the school were entirely funded through sponsorships, donations and contributions from parents. Only 20% of the families are able to pay for the cost of their children’s education. Unfortunately, as elsewhere in Brazil, operating costs are rising steadily.
Regardless of their social and financial background, all families are encouraged to actively participate in the school community. Therefore, the association of student mothers “Arte Mainha” was founded in 2007. About 20 women meet regularly to produce hand made products. These small items are then being sold on the Maraú peninsula and create additional income to support the school.