sexta-feira, 6 de fevereiro de 2015



São Paulo, Brasil

Sofie Baeke
November 2014

Photography by Edu On Tour & Revitarte
          Rede Brasil Atual

General information

CIEJA Campo Limpo, a public school in the most violent neighborhood of the world, is probably the only building in town where the doors remain open. The school is situated in the south of São Paulo between the slums (favelas) of ‘Parque Santo Antônio’ and Godoy’. Right now the school has more or less 1200 students.

Anybody older than 15 is welcome from 7:30 am until 10:30 pm. This is a place where your past does not matter, where you won´t be interrogated about how you ended up here. In fact, many of the pupils were sent to CIEJA by the court and the school played an important role in the pacification between the two fighting slums.

Inclusion of everybody in society is extremely important to this school, specifically the inclusion of people with special needs.

Briefly, the open doors symbolize a warm-hearted welcome, a fresh start and the freedom to shape a better, responsible future.

Founding story

Êda Luiz - people call her Dona Êda - is the woman it all started with. Passionate about the art of educating, she grew up in this neighborhood in front of the previous school ‘Ciemens’. Her house became a meeting place for her friends and she was the one who mobilized a whole community network to start CIEJA in 1999.

Having studied together with Paulo Freire and inspired by his political and critical pedagogy, the keywords of this education are autonomy, inclusion, questioning & discussing, learning with meaning and applying theory into practice in the surrounding community.

Teaching methodology and curriculum

CIEJA is structured by the model of the democratic schools and uses the Paulo Freire method which starts from the social context of the students. The goal of the school is to strengthen the autonomy of pupils. This autonomy is seen as a process in which democracy and inclusion are a practice, not merely a theory.
Conscientização (awareness) of the existential situation is the first step in the liberating, emancipatory process to become who you are.

Flexible schedules from morning till night allow students to combine their studies with a job. On Fridays students plan the semester project and the next week together.

To integrate all disciplines and to make them more efficient, the curriculum is divided into 4 categories:
1.      languages and codes (including English and Portuguese);
2.      human sciences (with history and geography);
3.      logical and artistic learning (mathematics and the arts);
4.      sciences of thought (science and philosophy).

Every month the school works around a theme. A problematic situation is being presented to students. Pupils engage in personal research followed by collective debate and ending with an exercise to apply theory into practice. This is the basic structure of the classes. Next to the ‘adapted’ curriculum, students can involve in community projects each semester.

Pupils are evaluated in different ways: self-evaluation and evaluation by the teacher go hand in hand. Evaluation happens mainly written as literacy is an important aspect of Paulo Freire’s alphabetization program.

Organizational and structural aspects

CIEJA has two buildings with many classrooms, a teachers` room, a kitchen, a dining space, a square, a garden, etc. In most of the classes pupils sit in small discussion groups.

The school offers free meals, providing healthy food for everybody but the students themselves are the ones who cook and clean the school. Teachers and students decide the school rules together, including how to solve problematic behavior.

Café Terapêutico is a two hour weekly encounter with parents and people of the neighborhood to discuss the inclusion of disabled students in the school and in the community. Amongst them are mute, blind and deaf people and pupils with Down syndrome.

Family of the students and the organizations in the surroundings are involved in decision making. This way CIEJA functions as a kind of community center for recreation, reflection and even for resolving conflicts.


Being a public school, CIEJA is subsidized by government, and can count on support from partnerships in the community. To receive funds for the meals, the neighborhood helped in building a dining space as this was one of the conditions.

It wasn´t easy to get the ‘adapted’ curriculum accepted by the public education inspection but by perseverance and detailed explanation the school could eventually convince inspectors and gain their confidence.

Personal experience

Walking through the school, witnessing the activities and listening to the people, I could sense a sincere passion for education, a supportive environment, responsible autonomy and political impact.  

Being a fan of Paulo Freire who had never seen his method in practice, I was amazed by the serenity of this community school, which feels like a comfortable home where people strive, search and celebrate together.

This is a democratic school where teachers still teach, or more precisely, they create dialogue inviting students to think for themselves. To me these teachers look like friends, real friends, real shining friends.

On one of the Edu On Tour education events, we created a movement for an education (r)evolution and we named it ‘#Imdaba’. When I asked Dona Êda if CIEJA had a wall available for an #Imdaba-graffiti, she answered ‘All the walls are yours’. (picture Dona Êda with the artists of ‘Revitarte’ and a student)

Contact details

CIEJA - Centro Integrado de Educação de Jovens e Adultos
Rua Cabo Estácio da Conceição, 176
Capão Redondo
São Paulo CEP 05854-060

Telephone: +55 11 5816-3701
                   +55 11 5816-2907

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