This case study deals with the experience of the Paulo Virgínio State School, in the municipality of Cunha, in the region of Vale do Paraíba – SP/Brazil. Cunha was the scene of disasters in 2010 due to heavy flooding and landslides, which are repeated every summer and cause loss and damage.
This experience is part of the actions of the Cemaden Education project implemented in 2014 by the National Center for Monitoring and Alerting of Natural Disasters, of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications – Cemaden/MCTIC. This was a pilot school, with which each step of the project was built together, with a view to expand it to high schools in Brazil. The project’s website (http://educacao.cemaden.gov.br) is open, containing suggestions for research activities, media library, and campaigns.
The objective of Cemaden Education is to contribute to the generation of a culture of perception of disaster risks, in the broad context of environmental education and the construction of sustainable and resilient societies. The idea is that each participating school becomes a micro-local Cemaden: a space to research, monitor the environment and climate, share knowledge, understand and issue disaster alerts, in addition to participatory management of interventions with their communities.
The Paulo Virgínio school has a total of 1054 students, 617 of whom are in high school (INEP/MEC School Census, 2016), and are aged between 14 and 18 years, in rural and urban areas of the municipality. During the 2015/2016/2017 school years, the school adopted the theme of disaster risk reduction and involved the high school faculty, guided by pedagogical coordination, and more than 1600 students from the 17 high school classes, in research groups. The culmination of the process is dedicated to the theme of monitoring phenomena that potentiate disasters and the perception of risks, in the annual seminar “Citizenship Dialogues in the Prevention of Social and Environmental Disasters”.
The source of funding was found by the school from resources of the Ministry of Education (MEC) allocated to public high schools: they used part of the resources of the Innovative High School Program (ProEMI/MEC) for the scientific initiation activities of the project. This resource funded the technical visits to rural schools and the study of the watershed, the students’ snacks during the technical visits, and the funding of consumables such as screws, banners, stickers, and material for the organisation of the annual seminar. The complementary resources for the organisation of the seminar were collected from the community sale of food to the school community. The school also had the support of a scholarship from the Institutional Program of Scientific Initiation Scholarships of the National Research Council – CNPq, through the Forestry Institute/State Secretariat of Environment – SP, in partnership with Cemaden Education.
For the development of the Cemaden Education project, the school also sought other partnerships: it involved the local NGO Serra Above (work with sustainability and agroecology), a geologist from the Federal University of ABC who lives in the municipality, and the Forest Institute/State Park of Serra do Mar – Núcleo Cunha.