“We are using the biggest sporting event in the world to construct an educational legacy.”
The Rio 2016 education programme, known as Transforma, will be expanded beyond Brazil’s borders with an online launch in August.
Already present in the Brazilian states of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, and the capital city Brasilia – benefiting a total of about one million school children – the programme is expected to reach approximately seven million children in Brazil, and many more abroad, when the new platform goes live next month.
Rio 2016 and the Ministry of Education have announced that the platform will offer courses and training for teaching professionals in Portuguese, English and Spanish. The primary objective is to increase sporting activity in schools, while also bringing youngsters closer to the Games and their values; the materials will be available to download on the Transforma website.
The impact of the programme, which began last year, is already being felt in participating schools.
“When we chose the ‘young agents’ to lead the initiative, we did not only choose positive leaders, but also negative ones,” Lucia Helena da Silva, head of the Lieutenant General Napion Municipal School in Rio, said. “Over time, the positive leadership exercised influence over the negative and values such as respect and friendship became more valued.
“For example, today, we have less vandalism. Before, posters that pupils put up on the corridor walls rarely lasted more a couple of days. In June, we made posters about the Olympic Games and they are all still there. The kids make sure they stay up.”
Da Silva added that the sporting activities available in her school had also been diversified.
“The kids were resistant at the start, thinking that I wanted to stop football, but I explained that I only wanted to introduce new sports,” Da Silva said. “Luckily I have a group of teachers who showed a lot of interest and today we have badminton, rugby, shot put and five-a-side football for the visually impaired in school. The kids enjoy it so much that they have even stopped insisting on football all the time.”
Present in about 2,200 schools, Transforma has also taken hockey, golf and goalball into the Brazilian education system. As well as providing training for teaching professionals, the programme stages sports festivals to promote healthy lifestyles.
“We are using the biggest sporting event in the world to construct an educational legacy,” said Vanderson Berbat, Rio 2016’s education manager. “And during the Games, when the kids and teachers are watching the sports, they will understand them and their rules, and be able to say they have already played them.”
About 200 children from seven schools that are participating in the programme enjoyed a visit to the volleyball World League finals, which were staged in Rio mid-July.The event, which served as a test event for Rio 2016, was staged at the Maracanazinho, which will host the Olympic volleyball tournament next year.
“We are always promoting the Olympic and Paralympic values to the children in class, but from now on, with the test events, they will begin to breathe the Olympic and Paralympic spirits in the city,” said Andre Rocha, a physical education teacher at Chile Municipal School in Rio.