King, Queen in Brazil

Queen Rania visits São Paulo to see successful community projects implemented in Brazilian schools, highlights effect of corporate social responsibility projects and community involvement

October 25, 2008

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department - São Paulo) While in Brazil, Friday, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah visited several successful education-focused projects to see firsthand the effects of community participation in the lives of underprivileged and disadvantaged youth. Her Majesty lauded the role the community has played in guiding youth away from surrounding violence, drugs, and other ills.  Queen Rania, who is accompanying His Majesty on their first tour of Latin America, has focused most of her activities there on promoting educational advancement and learning about best practices and partnerships. Her first stop on Friday was the Aprendiz (“apprentice”) City-School, which has operated in the Vila Madalena district of S?o Paulo since 1997 to experiment and disseminate the concept of community education. At the school, Queen Rania, who was accompanied by Princess Noor Hamzah throughout the day, met with Founder Gilberto Dimenstein; Director Natacha Costa; a representative from the State Department and UNICEF representatives. Her Majesty was briefed on the program and how it started. Award winning journalist turned community activist Dimenstein said that he started the NGO ‘Cidade-Escola Aprendiz’ because he felt there must be a way to engage youth in society and offer them alternatives to the dangerous lifestyle in their surrounding communities. To do so, the Aprendiz identifies spaces within the community that can work as schools of life. They engage youth by using creative approaches like teaching art, music, philosophy, dance, and communication skills. They create networks with businesses people, artists and other community members to partner up with the youth. Dimenstein said this helps create both a sense of ownership and inclusion for the youth while also providing life skills. Queen Rania said she was impressed by the results of Aprendiz. “It recognizes that education is a great equalizer; it is a rung on the ladder to dignity, self-respect, and self-reliance,” she said. After enjoying dynamic musical performances from youth in the program, and participating in a short art lesson, Her Majesty and the Princess joined a dozen youth in a moderated discussion by a UNICEF representative to hear about their experiences and what the school means to them. Students said that the experiences have changed their lives by allowing them to learn through relevant experiences, has created a love for knowledge and provided them with motivation for the future. Her Majesty applauded how the center has raised the social capital of the community by building trust. “The Aprendiz City School is developing its young people into dynamic and global citizens so that they can contribute to a more fair and prosperous society,” she said.  As UNICEF’s first Eminent Advocate for Children, Queen Rania lauded the organization’s role in supporting Aprendiz. UNICEF offers support by dissemination of its methodologies to other schools and cities in Brazil. Aprendiz serves as the main pedagogical laboratory for the project’s activities. “This model goes to show that when public/private partnerships and different social actors - like UNICEF - share the responsibility for education, they ensure a higher quality of education and become key partners in success,” she said.  Queen Rania and Princess Noor later visited the Community Awakening Program, supported by the Ethos Institute for discussions with Daniel Feffer, a member of the Advisory Board and leading Brazilian businessman; Mil? Villela, a leader in philanthropic and volunteerism work in Brazil; and Ricardo Young, president of the institute about the effect of corporate social responsibility on the local community.  Founded in 1998 by a group of five businessmen, the Ethos Institute is a leading non-governmental corporate social responsibility organization in Brazil and a global reference in the issue that develops projects in partnership with several bodies worldwide. The Institute supports the Community Awakening Program by  The program focuses on engaging the community in education and preparing youth for the workforce.  Queen Rania lauded the group’s efforts and said that corporate social responsibility should be incorporated into daily activities.  Her Majesty also met with a group of women who took training courses at the center and now use the skills they learned there to develop their livelihood. The women proudly exhibited their handicraft work to their royal guests.