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15 Jun

After 6 months spent helping at the Escolinha, it is time to draw up a little  review.

  • First of all, our improvement in learning Portuguese – a language that we did not know a word of before coming to Brazil – has really helped our relationships with the teachers and above all with the children.

Indeed, we are now able to understand a whole conversation in Portuguese, even if sometimes we have to admit that our pocket dictionary gets very useful concerning technical words. That way it makes us more active in the help we provide to the school. For instance we have at present conversations with the Dance Teacher and the Sport Teacher that we could never have had before, given that they both do not speak a word of English, Spanish or French.

  • However, as we have written above, not only is it a way to improve our relationships with teachers, but also an easier way to get in touch with the children.

It is always interesting to get to know them because their lives are pretty different than ours. For example, the vast majority of them have usually 6 or 7 sisters and brothers…

  • Speaking about children, we are glad to witness their improvements in English. It is always a pleasure to see that our work pays off.

A little anecdote: last week was their assessment week; and at the top of the answer sheet, they have to write their name and also the teacher’s name. And most of them have written “Tia Hello” which means “Professor Hello” instead of “Liliane”, the real name of the English teacher (see her interview here). Liliane actually uses a little English song to start her class, which says basically “Hello to the world”, and it was funny to see that the children remembered that well.

  • Lastly, helping the Esolinha weekly has also completed our viewpoint regarding the teachers’ working conditions.

We must admit that it is nothing comparable to France: working 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, teachers are exhausted and complain about that. Some of them live 2 hours by bus from the Escolinha; but with the rainy season it often becomes 3 hours minimum. As they told us, they have no interest in buying a car and coming on their own because in Brazil it is very expensive (cars are heavily taxed given that they are imported) and the gas will cost them their whole month wage. Sometimes, some teachers just stop going to the Escolinha without necessarily advising the headmistress of the school, Monica Galeao (see her interview here). For instance, last week, while we were here, she had to deal with a whole class of 6 year olds because the teacher suddenly stopped going to work.

Teacher during children breaktime

Teachers during children breaktime

To put it all in a nutshell, during these 6 months at the Escolinha, we have participated in great events (the Carnival, Easter…) and have never seen children so happy to celebrate. We are deepening our relationships with the teachers on the one hand and with the children on the other hand, thanks to our improvement in Portuguese. Even if we are sometimes witnesses of a lack of motivation from the teachers, we feel that we are useful and we could not be more thankful for that. 


Mother’s Day

30 May


Feliz Dia Das Mâes!

Every year, in May takes place Mother’s day, an international event. However, it isn’t celebrated on the same day in all the countries. Thus, here in Brazil, it is held traditionally on the second Sunday in  May : that is to say , on May12th , this year.

Like many Brazilian schools, Yolanda Queiroz school decided to organize a little ceremony in honour of mothers, on the friday before Mother’s day.

Even if we could not take part in the event, we followed all the preparation of that big day. For this occasion, a few days before,each class had to  learn a song with the choir teacher’s help : Pr Wilson. It was a song by Tim Maia called “Primavera”. The lyrics are below:

Quando o inverno chegar
Eu quero estar junto a ti
Pode o outono voltar
Eu quero estar junto a ti

Porque (é primavera)
Te amo (é primavera)
Te amo, meu amor

Trago esta rosa (para te dar)
Trago esta rosa (para te dar)
Trago esta rosa (para te dar)

Meu amor…
Hoje o céu está tão lindo (sai chuva)
Hoje o céu está tão lindo (sai chuva)

Mother’s Day respected a very precise schedule. Children came with their mothers at 7:30 am, and it opened with the presentation of Unifor’s “Camerata”. Then teachers showed a video recorded with the children in the school. Afterwards, a ballerina from the Unifor’s dance company, introduced herself and gave us a little demonstration of her work. Thereafter, Pr Wilson, the Choir teacher did the same and children sang “Primavera”which was carefully prepared before .

Finally, it ended at 9:30 am, with all the kids giving to their mother a little gift they made in class.

An Afternoon at the Museum

6 May

This Tuesday afternoon was not like it used to be as we brought 4 classes of children (aged between 7 and 8) to visit the museum of Ceara, located in the downtown of Fortaleza.

Waiting for the bus... and making some last minute preparations!

Waiting for the bus… and making some last minute preparations!

It may seem not so extraordinary for French pupils… but at the Escolinha, even if the great majority of them had already visited a museum, there were still some children to whom this place was totally unknown. For instance, one little girl asked a teacher what a museum was.

The children were particularly excited at the idea of going out from their usual school framework, and they were a little restless in the bus.

Ready and excited !

At their arrival at the museum, children were first welcomed in a specific room, where they were explained how they should behave and the different rules to follow in such a place.

Then, they were divided into four groups ; and each group formed a single line ready to start the visit of the museum. Not only was it an original way to discover the different rooms, but also a very efficient strategy to make sure that all the children could admire the works, (generally this is very complicated with a whole group). Besides, it was easier for the children to remain quiet and well-behaved. However we have to admit that it was sometimes difficult for us to assure that they were really paying attention and listening throughout the visit.

It sounded a bit cliché, but when we entered the Weapons Room, boys were particularly puzzled. These weapons were used in a military purpose in the seventeenth century.

Nevertheless, once in the Slavery Room where beautiful dresses were exhibited, girls were at their turn, totally amazed. These dresses represented costumes worn during   the « Maracatu ». The Maracatu is a dance on a rhythmic music practised at the Carnival parade. The Maracatu is a Brazilian tradition that goes back as far as the beginning of colonization and is inherited from the slaves’ history.

The famous Maracatu Dress !

The famous Maracatu Dress !

This room is one of the most important in the museum as the State of Ceara was the first Brazilian State to abolish slavery, four years before May 13th 1888, the official date in Brazil.

It is true that we had already visited this museum at our arrival in Fortaleza, but, it was a great (and very different!) experience to visit it one more time with Yolanda Queiroz school’s pupils; even if everything didn’t go as smoothly as we might expect. It was quite interesting to witness how children perceive their own history, and to listen to their wondering regarding Fortaleza’s construction.

Easter at the Escolinha

26 Apr

Preparing Easter at the Escolinha is a real run, but finally (and hopefully!) a real celebration! Behind the scene, it is a huge work: we had no time to breathe, having always something to do: things to pack, chocolate to hand out, boxes to bring, candies to gather, teachers to help, children to calm down…

Behind the scene... working hard!

Behind the scene… working hard!

The day (29/03/13)  began with little shows, prepared by each class: choral, dance, circus… as always, children were very glad and proud : it is true that some of them are quite gifted.

Unfortunately we could not attend those shows because we were working with other teachers. We were actually busy with getting small packs with candies ready which would  be given to the pupils later on.

Teamwork with candies!

Teamwork with candies!

As you can see in the picture below, everything was carefully planned; everyone had a specific task to fulfil so we had to be very reactive! Each gift had to be identical to the other, holding the same amount of chocolate and candies.Then we gathered them into a big box labelled to a specific class, and each teacher distributed them to his pupils after class.



We really enjoyed helping teachers for this Easter Celebration.

First of all ,it allowed us to meet other teachers we had never met before. Besides, it was a great experience to be part of a teamwork with Brazilian people. At last, it was indeed a  real pleasure to see all those children smiling when they received their candies.There’s nothing better !

FELIZ PáSCOA to everyone!

Children'smiles, our special easter gifts!

Children’smiles, our special easter gifts!

Liliane – The English Teacher

15 Apr
On Air

On Air

Liliane has been the Escolinha’s English teacher for 10 years.

Thanks to her, about 670 children, from 4 to 10 years old, will have the chance to learn English this year; that is to say 26 classes. Working 8 hours per day, from Monday until Friday, it means a lot of pressure for the only English teacher of the school.

As you can see below, her schedule is tight and well organized.

Liliane's schedule

Liliane’s schedule

Even if she doesn’t have to give any classes, she has to stay at the Escolinha: “I have to be there to plan” she said. That means preparing each lesson she will give into a big book, and then showing it to the Escolinha’s coordinator. Sometimes, it happens that the coordinator makes some suggestions, but generally he authorizes the whole lesson. Indeed, Liliane explains that every class has its own goal and she wants to be sure that children are memorizing her lesson “I want to feel that they really learned something. And they are usually very happy to prove it during the little test I give at the end of each class”. However, only the 7 to 10 year old children will be graded in April.

Sample of a english lesson, carefully written at first

Sample of a english lesson, carefully written at first

Liliane insists on the fact that “English is as important as mathematics or geography”. Asked about the difficulties she is facing, she firstly talks about her tight schedule: as she has each class once per week, she has to be very organized. She also adds her difficulty to fill her role completely  in only a 50 minute lesson – which is very short when “you have to involve all the children and to finish at the correct time”.

Exemple of activities proposed by Liliane

Exemple of activities proposed by Liliane

At last, she mentions that handling the discipline was also a perilous part. Indeed, the younger the kids are, the more they are undisciplined. According to Liliane, it is not really necessary to teach English to children who are still in the kindergarten.

Which future for Yolanda Queiroz School’s children?

24 Mar

After getting a quality education at the Escolinha during seven years, children have to continue their schooling in a new establishment. Indeed, when they reach 11 years old, they have no choice than leave Yolanda Queiroz School. Since they were 4 years old, they have been taught many subjects such as Portuguese, mathematics, history, geography, English, sports and music. Thus, Monica GALEAO, the Escolinha‘s headmistress (read her interview here), told us that illiterate children leaving the school were very few. This education provides them with essential bases for their future life.


             However, their education may not have to stop here: thanks to a partnership with another university, UNIFOR offers them a prestigious opportunity.

Indeed, each year, the top two pupils of the last class promotion are allowed to continue their schooling in a renowned private school: the Colégio Ari de Sa Cavalcante. However, they have to take an “entry test” to finally be enrolled in this school. Afterwards, the Edson Queiroz Foundation will entirely finance their schooling in this establishment until they get to university. This process gives them the key to apply for the best universities all over the world later on.

Which future for them?

             Unfortunately, only two pupils out of about 70 are concerned. What happens to the rest of the class, we can genuinely wonder?

When they choose or can afford to continue their schooling, they usually go to a public secondary school, in their neighborhood. But compared to Yolanda Queiroz school, financial and staff means, here, are sadly lacking. Therefore, they can’t expect the same standard of education as they used to have at the Escolinha.

Besides, the teachers in La Escolinha told us that when former children came back to visit them, they said they missed their affection and attention a lot. Indeed, at the Escolinha, the educators try to be patient and kind to their pupils and really aware of their needs. They always take time to talk with the parents whenever their kid has a problem and do their best to find the appropriate solution.

“The children learn playing and playing they are happy”


To put all in a nutshell, regarding those children’s future, there is definitely a wide gap.

On one hand, only two of them will be offered the opportunity to reach a prestigious university while another minority will try to complete its educational cycle in a basic university unable to take all its students into account.

On the other hand, for the great majority of them, many have already dropped their high school studies and often get into trouble such as drug traffic, according to the Escolinha’s Headmistress.


17 Mar

A smile costs less than electricity, but it gives more light !