A partnership among Hydro, the union of employees in Norway and the city authorities in Paragominas, Brazil, is offering new educational opportunities for local youngsters – with iPads.
School children in the city of Paragominas, in northeastern Pará, will use the iPads throughout this year under a project, "iPads CASECA," which has installed 15 tablets in a room at the Socio-Educational Center for Children and Adolescents (CASECA).
The initiative, which should benefit 1,000 children and teenagers, was launched on January 23, when the municipality celebrated its 48th anniversary.
"Teacher, I want to see a computer..."
Eliene Ferro, coordinator of the Child Labor Eradication Program in CASECA, emphasized the stimulus that the project provides to children.
"We already had music, karate, indoor soccer and arts that are the subjects where each month the teachers develop a theme with these children. And they are always asking, ‘Teacher, will we have computer classes? Teacher, I want to see a computer, I want to know how to use it.’
“Thank God, now we had the opportunity to be awarded with these iPads. The students will learn English, music, work with texts ... the iPad has several uses for them," she says.
Maria Eduarda, aged 10, was very happy during the project launch: "When I was doing my enrollment, Eliene, who is the coordinator, called me, but I did not know what for. I asked an English teacher, and she said 'Do you know what you're going to win?' And I said 'what?' - 'You're getting 15 iPads!' And I couldn’t believe it. When I starting using one, I got really nervous. I was afraid of doing something wrong. But when finished, everything was all right. I think it was even easy."
A better future for all
Hydro Paragominas will be the local representative of the company, promoting and following the project, which is pioneering in Pará.
"The project is a combination of several important elements: aluminum, which has its origin in the bauxite mining here in Paragominas, technology, the people who are part of the partner institutions and the children, who represent the better future we all want," said Ricardo Lara, director of Hydro Paragominas.
The Paragominas municipality is also an important partner in the project. It has installed wireless network service in CASECA with capacity to connect all the tablets, which will allow future download of apps, which will contribute to the development of the young students.
Representatives of the Norwegian foundation Africa Startup, which developed a similar project in Gambia, are in the city conducting the training of teachers and technicians that will lead the learning process in CASECA. The proposal for the first semester is focus the lessons on the following key areas: Introduction to the iPad, Art, Logic, Games, Portuguese and English (reading and writing).
Union members take the lead
Union representatives of Hydro employees in Norway visited the bauxite mine in Paragominas in 2011, and were impressed by the work done by CASECA.
Back in Norway, representatives sought a partnership with Hydro, which from the beginning has fully supported the development of the project “iPads CASECA.”
Since then, funds were raised and the Norwegian Foundation Startup Africa was invited to help.
The iPADS CASECA project is a good example of how the Norwegian unions and Hydro's management cooperate,” says Sten Roar Martinsen, who represents the union that initiated the fund raising for this project at the Hydro Paragominas.