Learning something that books can’t teach

Sorry teacher, but poetry analysis is right up there with discussions on graphs. Our educational projects in Brazil demonstrate how the youth of today can learn something useful for their future without even knowing they are learning.


A school for a young generation that cares

This week, Around the World takes us to just outside Rio de Janeiro, where thyssenkrupp operates one of Brazil’s most modern steel mills. We find out how to learn outside of lessons too, as thyssenkrupp CSA and the Brazilian government have initiated a very special project to open Brazil’s first ever certified environmental school.

The recipe for sustainability at the Erich Walter Heine School could not be more exemplary, with separating waste in the schoolyard being the most basic exercise of them all. Using rain water for cleaning and bathroom facilities helps cut water consumption by around 80 percent. Solar systems generate the power for the school and plants in the rooftop garden absorb the Brazilian heat, minimizing the need for air conditioning in the classrooms, considering the school is located in one of the hottest places in Rio. The green roofs also contribute to reducing CO2 emissions, while motion sensors in every room automatically switch off the lights when no one is there. Ingredients for the school lunches are grown in the organic vegetable garden, and pupils are given lessons on organic gardening practices. I could go on and on…

Taking a look around the school, I think about how the education here must bear twice as much fruit than at other schools. The young, who mostly come from the surrounding communities, learn to care about the environment as a by-product to the usual lessons, meaning they internalize how to practically deal with resources on a daily basis. Later on in life, pupils from the school will also know what to do when it comes to making eco-friendly decisions at work. I think this is the only way to gradually raise environmental awareness in society.

Arts and crafts on culture

A couple of blocks down, children taking part in the thyssenkrupp EducArte program are also receiving a special education of sorts. As we drop in, the kids are currently preparing for their art show scheduled for the coming week. And boy, are they into it! Every day they come here to learn together about different cultures, history, or math while taking part in arts and crafts, building things, and painting. They have already sketched geometrical figures and artistically depicted entire African tribes out of bottles, the theme of the week.

That evening, I wish that I could go back to school as well. Have you ever done that math and figured out how much of your life is spent working? I’ve only been on the job for half a year but I would hazard a guess and say somewhere in the neighborhood of eight years non-stop. As work consumes so much of our time, it’s important for companies to give something back to their employees, their families, and the community that they live in. Now that may sound like something out of a marketing brochure, but it’s true that corporations bear certain responsibilities. As we take off on our flight heading Down Under, I’m pleased to have discovered that education is part of who we are.

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