Fundamar students

Students and staff of Fazenda-Escola Fundamar

Project Description

In the farm regions of Brazil, lack of transportation is the main obstacle to education; when offered by the Government, children are taken to urban schools where the academic culture tends to follow the values of the town. Economically and culturally, the students are affected when mass urban culture confronts traditional country culture. Furthermore, turnover of the families is common, from a farm setting to an urban setting (and vice-versa).

Because these children come from low socio-economic conditions, worsened by being constantly uprooted, their schooling is fragmented and they often experience difficulty in assimilating to the school setting.

In contrast, Fazenda-Escola Fundamar (Fundamar Farm School), located in the city of Paraguaçu, in the south of Minas Gerais State, Brazil, gathers and registers these children throughout the year and establishes the political-pedagogy of Fazenda-Escola in the social-economic reality of their world. The school assures the farm children an education that relates to their farm reality — even today as rural and urban affairs are mingled. Providing transportation (five school buses that travel 280 miles per day) guarantees that these children remain in their socio-cultural context.

What is the Free School Bus Project?

This Project aims to continue and complete social care of the students, field worker's kids and teachers hired in the city. Beyond teaching and feeding the kids, the Project provides free transportation: from home to school, and back home again. In 1984, the institution began Free School Transportation and by 2000 the buses were used for more than 1.026.291 Km. Therefore, we noticed a huge increase on the mileage versus an increase in the number of students that needed the service.

The resources to maintain this service come from partnerships, agro income, rent and donations.

What is the need of this Project?

This service is mandatory in a major agricultural region, poor of investments in basic infrastructure, including transportation, health, education and water. Today the school has four buses, two were purchased and two were obtained by an exchange contract with the transportation company of Paraguaçu. The transport system provided by the Fundação 18 de Março has shown itself insufficient to match the growing needs. A large number of children need transportation to school and sometimes use unsafe vehicles to travel long distances.

In the garden

Who benefits?

The Free School Transportation project benefits all the students (more than 600) and teachers that study and work at the Fazenda Escola Fundamar. All those registered at the school are children of local working people — more than 240 families will share this benefit.

When will the Project begin?

The Free School Transportation is already underway with positive results. However, the project needs more buses to avoid over-crowded conditions. The project will be possible with the donation of four school buses, three of them to replace those that are already damaged and one more to address the exceeding need. Additional funds for maintenance and operation have been secured as well.

Project Background

More than 500 school-aged children attend Fazenda-Escola Fundamar (Fundamar Farm School), located in the city of Paraguaçu, in the south of Minas Gerais State, Brazil. In March 2004, the Fazenda-Escola celebrated 20 years promoting quality education, culture and leisure in the cities of Paraguaçu and Machado. In the beginning, only 70 children attended the school.

The South of Minas is one the most important areas of coffee production, which, while important, is no longer a significant export product for Brazil. The cultural crisis of the coffee plantations, aggravated by mechanization of the harvest, has reduced employment, generating a strong exodus from the rural areas to the city.

The majority of the urban population makes a living from agribusiness. Industrial activity in the region is limited to a medium-sized textile factory. The average income is about US $120.00.

Because of the shrinking industrial activity in this region, Paraguaçu seeks investments in order to generate employment. The city lacks good health services, education, leisure and culture, causing young people to move to other cities.

From daycare to the 8th grade, the children of Fazenda-Escola Fundamar attend school the entire day where they engage in formal learning, art education and handcrafts. Those who attend the school are children of farm workers, some small land owners, salaried dwellers in the rural South, or salaried workers who live in Paraguaçu.

The farm families are found in a wide range of territory. The areas are comprised of seven rural neighborhoods and 30 medium- to large-sized coffee farms. In the farm region, there are no health, education or cultural programs, making the Fazenda-Escola Fundamar the only place which offers these services.

The pioneer project of providing childhood education to farm children in the South of Minas Gerais received, among others, the Prêmio Criança (Children Award) 2002 from the Abrinq Foundation in partnership with Banco Santander for the Direitos da Criança (Rights of Children).

At Fundamar school


The following are some of the awards it received:

  • Prêmio FIEMG/Nansen Araújo — 1996
  • Prêmio Cidadania — 1997
  • Prêmio Bem Eficiente — 1997
  • Prêmio Bem Eficiente — 2000
  • Homenagem Assemblèia Legislativa de Minas Gerais — 2000
  • Prêmio Empresa Voluntária do Ano 2001
  • Trofèu Voluntários das Gerais — 2002
  • Prêmio Criança 2002 — Educação Infantil
  • Certificado Programa Gestão Pública e Cidadania — Fundação 18 de Março
  • Certificado Programa Gestão Pública e Cidadania — Escola Estadual Fundamar

The Project of Fazenda Escola Fundamar includes the following programs:

  • Core Program of basic farm maintenance education — In the Fundamar state school through an agreement with the Government of Minas Gerais State, for farm workers children, ages 2 to 16.
  • The Infant Educational — A daycare center, annexed to Fundamar state school; perhaps the only one in the farm communities of Brazil.
  • Workshops in skills training — Cabinet making, basket weaving, ceramics, spinning, typing, gardening, and computing.
  • Fundamar Nutrition Program — Provision of five meals a day, supplemented with snacks.
  • Fundamar Health Program, Medical and Dental Services — Preventive health campaigns and services, also extended to students and families.
  • Fundamar Community Program Community Links — Focused on the proposals of Fundamar School in activities of education, health, sanitation, citizenship and the creation of jobs and income.
  • Fundamar Library Program — The opening of libraries at Fundamar School for the community, along with the maintenance of a mobile library.
  • The Agricultural Program — Creating self-sufficiency by growing hay and tea leaves on 40 hectares, in partnership with Santa Rita S.A. farm in growing corn.
  • Farm School Transportation Program — Free school transportation "door-to-door" for more than 500 students and teachers.
  • Incentive Program for School Treasury — Fund Raising Program from Income Tax for the city's "Children and Adolescence Fund".

Project Leader Biographies

Pedro Augusto Leite Costa — Working as a journalist since 1976, and since 1990 as a managing-partner of Cia da Informacao (The Information Company), Pedro has an undergraduate degree in Communication Skills at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, a federal university in Brazil. He's been working for a variety of newspapers, radio stations and magazines in Brazil, among them O Estado de Sao Paulo and BBC, of London, England. He worked for the governor of Minas Gerais, his birth state, for three years. As a PR man, he was in charge of major Brazilian art exhibitions in Brazil, Europe, Asia and South America. He is considered one of the foremost Brazilian specialists in business communication affairs, mainly in the financial and law sectors, with an expertise in the country's media. He often lectures on media training for major international and national companies. Pedro is in charge of Fundamar's Foundation Expansion Affairs Management, which provides education for more than 500 poor children in a rural area of the country, and is responsible for Fazenda Santa Rita S.A., a privately owned coffee farm in the southeast of Brazil. Pedro is married, has two children, and lives both in Seattle, USA, and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Frieda Hoops-Costa has a BA interdisciplinary degree in English/Theatre/ Communication from Western Washington University/Fairhaven College and an MA in TESOL from Hunter College in New York. For the last 20 years she has worked as an ESL teacher in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and in New York City, working for a variety of institutions and a diverse student population, teaching many immigrants from countries of political and economic instability. In Brazil she successfully owned and operated her own language school from 1996-2001. She has worked as a translator for Fundamar and now is working as a fundraiser. She is married to a Brazilian and her two daughters were born in Brazil. Now she resides in both Seattle, Washington and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Contact Information:

Pedro & Frieda Hoops-Costa
17214 16th Place SE
Renton, WA 98058

Av. Faria Lima, 2954 #81
01451-000 - Sao Paulo

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