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Farm School in Brazil
Detail: Lago do Junco, Maranhao is located nearly 400 km from state capital Sao Luis, in one of the poorest corners of one of Brazil's poorest states. Violent land conflicts have raged here between impoverished rural workers and wealthy landowners. Education never stood a chance.

Though the land conflicts have largely receded today, but challenges remain. The average wage for a grueling day's work in the fields here is R$15 ($6.55). Many have fled the area while those who remain are searching for solutions to lead a better life.

One such solution is the Antonio Fontenele Family Agriculture School, an alternative primary school geared towards local youths and named after a rural rights activist who was gunned down in 1986. This is a new type of rural boarding school that is pioneering new rural production techniques. With support from ActionAid, the Escola Familia, or Family School as locals call it, now caters for some 150 young locals, who study 15 days in the school and then return home for 15 days, taking their new sustainable techniques with them.

The school initially faced resistance from the community as it stopped some common practices such as burning the fields or using pesticides. But today few question the benefits the school has brought. The farming techniques taught revolve around environmental protection and sustainability.

The school was the brainchild of the region's rural workers who realized that to guarantee the futures of their families in Maranhao they needed to improve levels of education. Local state schools are often underfunded, understaffed and hugely overcrowded. The solution was to create their own.

For full story see:,,2198688,00.html
Source: "Education sends children back to the land",
Date: April 25 2009