Unprecedented financing model for Agricultural Family Schools (EFA) and Rural Family Houses (CFR) will promote development in the Amazon biome
At a time when Brazil is resuming its global leadership role in protecting the environment, once again attracting international investment to the Amazon region, in São Paulo, the Future – United Territories Fund for Education Resources, first heritage fund destined to finance Agricultural Family Schools (EFA) and Rural Family Houses (CFR) in the Amazon. The event was attended by important businessmen focused on ESG causes, representatives of organizations linked to education in the Amazon biome and regional leaders.
Heritage Fund (or endowment fund) is a type of investment fund created to generate continuous income from invested assets. In the case of Future, the central objective is to guarantee the financial sustainability of two schools in the State of Amapá: EFAM – Escola Família Agroecológica do Macacoari and EFAB – Escola Família Agroextrativismo do Bailique, preventing their pedagogical activities from being interrupted in the long term.
“We need to find a way to solve the Amazon problem today, not in the future, as we have 15 million people living in this region.”Sandro Marques
The model also allows donors – whether individuals or large institutions – to contribute to causes of public interest in a more strategic and sustainable way. As I said Sandro Marques, consultant for Instituto Interelos and master of ceremonies at the launch event: “The big question is: how can we make a positive impact in the present? Observing all the links in the community-based value chains with which we work, we identified that there was a neglected link, a link in which investment was lacking, which could link all the others but was not receiving due attention. And that link is precisely education.”
The challenges for education in the Amazon
Due to the size and vastness of its territory, the Amazon region suffers from low population density, which, added to the long distances, makes it almost impossible for students to travel to traditional schools, compromising the learning process. In simple terms, the problem can be summarized as follows: sometimes there is a school, but there is no boat to transport the students; sometimes there is a boat, but the school stopped working due to lack of funds.
In this context, Agricultural Family Schools and Rural Family Houses emerge as a more than adequate solution to guarantee the education of young people in this region, since they are based on the pedagogy of alternation, a method in which the student spends 15 days at school and 15 days at home, allowing them to learn new theoretical content, but also practical ones, and, more importantly, to share their learning with the whole family, who can learn and apply more efficient and sustainable production techniques.
As Seu Martinho, a fisherman and important community leader in the Bailique region of Amapá, says: “My father died at 103 and died the same way he was born: with nothing. And he was an extremely hardworking man. But he only worked with his arms, not his head. Didn't know how to manage. The bottleneck in workers' lives is not knowing how to manage what they earn. Education is important to address this. This paradigm that needs to be broken.”
“We believe that young people in the Amazon are the future, but to be the future they need support, opportunities and education.”Your Martin
The biggest challenge of this teaching model, however, is the financial intermittency, since the transfer of public resources does not always occur continuously or is sufficient for the maintenance of the entire teaching structure that schools with this type of pedagogy demand. . They are created based on a demand from the community and other actors, such as trade unions, who mobilize and create a sponsoring association. This association becomes the organization responsible for the school and for making agreements with the State for the transfer of funds.
Other challenges faced by schools in this region are the correct formalization of the association, the approval of the political pedagogical project by the Board of Education, the hiring of staff and teachers aligned with the Pedagogy of Alternation and the difficulty in accessing financial resources from the State.
In addition, because they are community organizations with little experience in management, these associations face difficulties in the administrative field, which often lead to the indebtedness of the school's operational structure and even to its bankruptcy. It is also common for them to gain access to agreements with the State, but fail to render accounts and are prevented from accessing the resources again.
The interruption of its activities represents a serious pedagogical loss and a disruption of the social fabric, with a loss of community mobilization. In the long term, the absence of a continuous and quality educational process contributes to the stagnation of the territory.
"The Family Schools project is as beautiful as it is challenging."Aldemir Santos Correa
As explained by Aldemir Santos Correa, a graduate of Escola Família, board member of AEFAM – Escola Família Agroecológica do Macacoari and vice-president of the Board of Directors of Future: “The difficulty of managing these entities is immense, especially when the State does not pass on the resources due. Imagine having a team of professionals and not being able to pay them? This is what we call financial intermittence and this makes the students’ school year unfeasible and, consequently, the development of the territory.”
Future: the fastest and most effective solution
Based on this vision, the Interelos Institute team developed the Rural Education Program with the objective of strengthening the school units, guaranteeing their uninterrupted functioning.
O Future was created, then, to guarantee the Financing of Pedagogical Activities in schools, with the central objective of raising funds to compose a main capital and applying it so that, with the income from applications, school activities can be financed whenever necessary.
The idea behind the financial engineering of the Future it's simple: by ensuring that a school has resources from the interest received on the amount invested in the fund that can guarantee its full and perpetual operation, that school starts to reduce the risk of school discontinuity to zero. With this, it inserts in the territories between 100 and 150 young people trained to live together and transform the local reality.
As explained by Aerton Paiva, president of Instituto Interelos and creator of Future:
“At first, we thought that the problem was just the financial intermittence caused by the lack of transfer of resources by the State. So we thought: how can we solve this? The answer seemed simple: with working capital. So we decided to create a fund that could offer this working capital to schools. Upon analyzing the issue further, however, we observed that the problem was more complex. It was also a management problem. The State often did not make the transfers because the schools did not render accounts correctly, so we realized that we needed to put things in order.”
Another important point pointed out by Paiva concerns the people behind Future, as he explains:
“To create a heritage fund it is necessary to have a governance that transmits confidence to those who will put the money in the fund. Therefore, the choice of people was made with great care and a lot of criteria.”
The initial contribution of R$ 1.6 million made by JBS Fund for the Amazon enabled the structuring of Future and the estimate is that by 2027 the fund will raise R$ 60 million, guaranteeing the perpetuity of education in the biome. The Interelos Institute had, in this project, in partnership with AEFAM, amazonbai and the State University of Amapá (UEAP).