Brazil struggles with a widening gap between the rich and the poor. While many young people are successfully advancing through life, a staggering number of children are left behind. One in four lives in poverty, where drugs, violence and unemployment are the norm. A recent tragedy – a school shooting in Realengo that claimed the lives of 12 young students – has generated shockwaves across the country with citizens questioning the state of Brazil's schools and the well-being of its youth. Innovative Salesian programs are making a big difference and bringing hope to the young generation.
The new Salesian Youth Center in Rio de Janeiro is an innovative approach that uses sports to promote social and educational development among the city's most impoverished children.
The Center serves 100 youngsters between the ages of 6 and 15, with a special focus on children who suffer social exclusion and extreme poverty. A variety of sports activities provides students with an escape from torment and ridicule, and thus an incentive to stay in school and continue their education.
Promoting parent involvement is another objective of the Center. Education Minister Fernando Haddad was quoted as saying that parents account for 70% of the success of teaching, so raising social consciousness about the importance of education is critical.
Perhaps the best testimonials come from the students themselves. "We have never had an opportunity like this before," exclaims one child. "I hope the project develops, and us with it."
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BRAZIL: "Socio-Sporting" School in Rio de Janeiro Helps Close Education Gap