How democracy can give students a stake in their school’s success
- Primary theme: Community Collaboration
- Format: Panel discussion
- Country: Brazil
- Languages: Streamed live in English with automated captions in Arabic, English, French, Filipino, Hindi, Japanese, Malay, Portuguese, Serbian, and Spanish.
- Learn more about the Top Ten Shortlisted Schools in the Community Collaboration category on the World’s Best School Prizes
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About the school
EMEB Profª Adolfina J. M. Diefenthäler, a primary school in Novo Hamburgo, Brazil, was once a dilapidated institution that saw high numbers of students failing and dropping out, but now has almost no failures after bringing in democratic assemblies that give students a stake.
Back in 2012, like other schools in the area that serve impoverished communities, EMEB Profª Adolfina J. M. Diefenthäler was considered a “weak” institution and teachers were demoralised by the poor attitudes of its students who lacked the motivation to complete their studies. The facilities of the dirty, graffiti lined school were in such disrepair that many were unusable and verbal and physical conflicts could erupt in class. There was a lack of community spirit; both students and teachers felt as if they didn’t belong.
Determined to turn this around, the school pursued a democratic educational model. The school brought in a small Democratic Management Committee, independent of the school’s leadership, which reached out to students and parents to better understand what change they wanted to see within the school. All students participate in monthly class-based assemblies and raise issues which are recorded in notebooks. Representatives from each class then meet with Democratic Management Committee to raise the issues and discuss solutions. The Democratic Management Committee then reviews what’s written in the notebooks and sees which of the proposals are possible.
Each year, a school-wide conference is held at which the biggest demands and issues are discussed and debated in greater detail. It all comes down to a vote to see which of the viable demands can be achieved in the following year. In assemblies and conferences, everyone has a vote and each student has the right to criticise, demand or amend any proposals brought forward. The school makes sure the forum is a safe place for pupils to voice their concerns and have that voice respected. Since everyone can participate, everyone feels responsible for the development of the school and learns to listen and respect everyone’s needs. Teachers, meanwhile, feel empowered as agents of change.
Join EMEB Profª Adolfina J. M. Diefenthäler to learn how they reduced their high number of academic failing students to almost no failures using democratic assemblies.
Modrator: Thiago Nogueira Rosa
Thiago is an English and Religious Education teacher here at Adolfina. He’s been in this school since 2013. He graduated in Language Arts Portuguese and English and is post-graduated in Religious Education Teaching.
Speaker 1: Joice Maria Lamb
Joice is the pedagogical coordinator at Adolfina. She has worked here since 2012. She graduated in Language Arts Portuguese and is post-graduated in Pedagogical Coordination and School Management. She has worked as a public school teacher for 31 years.
Speaker 2: Andrea Zimmer
Andrea is the principal at Adolfina. She has been at school since 2008. She graduated in Language Arts Portuguese. She has worked as a public school teacher for 31 years.