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7/8 - Secretary of Education visit!

posted Jul 12, 2011, 4:32 PM by Julie Bateman   [ updated Jul 12, 2011, 4:36 PM ]
Today we were visited by the secretaries of education of the state and municipality, and the prefect of Poconé. The last time they visited the school its construction was nearly complete, but the finishing touches such as electricity, plumbing, wall and floor finishings were still a long ways off. The government team was very excited at the new state of the school, the bright coat of orange paint outside has definitely added new brilliance to the building. And fortunately over the previous days we had painted chalkboards onto the wall (we all were unaware that you could do this, and besides needing diesel to remove the chalkboard paint from your hands, it's incredible stuff) and painted the alphabet on the bond beam. My mother air-mailed supplies with my father - five pounds of peanut butter, and equally importantly three different sizes of stencils. The stencils began their journey with the alphabet in the classroom, and over our last few days here we will be using them to make signs all over PCER. 

Results of the visit were fairly predictable. We have the two most important things to start the school - students and a building. The government team is confident that the rest will fall into place over the new several months for the school to open in May of the coming year, when the Transpantaneira is in good enough shape. We are well over the minimum of ten students for a rural school, but transportation still remains the biggest concern, particularly the need for a boat in addition to a bus. The government team is very interested in experimenting with rural schooling as there are many underserved communities in Mato Grosso and in other rural states of Brazil. Some of the students are currently living in Poconé or in Cuiabá with relatives to attend school, and try to come home during extended holidays, which is challenging for many families on the river as they do not own cars and transportation is hard to arrange. Over the next few days we will be updating the census to provide the secretary of education with the material to matriculate the students. The population is transient in the Pantanal as many of the families move here to work at eco-lodges or on ranches. 

We also discussed the health clinic further with the secretaries of education and the plan is for the state to provide a doctor to visit once every two weeks on a regular schedule. Brazil's system for rural healthcare consists mostly of "posto sde saude" - health outposts that relate back to a center urban hospital, so PCER fits easily into the system. The doctor that is sent would do examinations and take care of basic ailments, and for more complicated matters the patient would be transported to Poconé.