The AITIARA School (“Aitiara” means “light nest” in the local native tongue) was founded in 1984 on the farm Estancia Demetria, 12km away from the town of Botucatu and approximately 240km from Sao Paulo. The school has set itself the goal to actively contribute to ease the deep socio-cultural gap that exists in the country. Currently, about 350 children attend the school.
The school was founded through the effort and work of two courageous women, Eldbjørg Blaich (from Norway) and Annemarie Pfister (from the Netherlands). They both moved to Brazil and were pioneers of Estancia Demetria in Botucatu, the country’s first biodynamic initiative. During the first years of the agricultural project, Eldbjørg and Annemarie cared for the children of the pioneers, telling fairy tales and undertaking activities such as painting, games and walks. Thereupon, the AITIARA Waldorf School was officially inaugurated in 1984. Upper school was implemented in 2003.
During the school’s first years, kindergarten and first grade united children of Brazilian agricultural workers with children of the European founding families. As the years went by, more and more children coming from an urban environment attended the school, resulting in a cultural exchange between city and countryside. In practice this means that 50% of the students attending AITIARA, come from less privileged families.
AITIARA is located on a 40’000 square metres property in the middle of the woods. Thanks to the help and support of strong partners among them the Friends of Waldorf Education or the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), today 14 classrooms, art workshops, science labs, a sports ground, a vegetable garden and a playground are part of the school premises.
On a daily basis, the kids coming from various backgrounds experience and discover the prosperity that comes along with diversity amongst human beings. Thus, the sharing of a lunch snack with a fellow student, who brought along less or nothing, or taking the weaker and less fortunate into consideration becomes a matter of course. How well the impulse of AITIARA is accepted in its environment and continues to develop in a healthy way, is proved by the constant growth of the school.
Additionally, the school is part of the Associated Schools Project Network of UNESCO since 2008. At the same time the school has suffered a period of an almost dramatic financial crisis. Fortunately the combined effort of teachers, parents and friends taking over the administration in July 2009 has meanwhile come to fruition and thus has significantly improved the situation. The main goal of AITIARA now is to regain a sustainable financial basis.