The Rural Family Home (or Casa Familiar Rural or "CFR" in Portuguese) offers rural youth a locally relevant, interdisciplinary education that enables them to become rural professionals, as well as become adults able to exercise their full rights and responsibilities as citizens. The CFR seeks to improve the quality of life for youth through the acquisition and application of expertise and scientific knowledge. An alternative to the formal secondary education provided by the government, the CFR demonstrates to youth how they can create sustainable vocations for themselves in such fields as farming, livestock production, and tourism, right within their own communities.
The primary teaching methodology employed is the pedagogy of alternation (pedagogia da alternância) — a program for youth age 14 or older. After three years in the program, students receive a certificate of vocational training, which is now recognized by the Department of Education of the Prefecture of Santarém as the equivalent of a secondary education diploma.
This approach to rural education involves youth alternating between spending one week training at the CFR and two weeks of supervised application of knowledge on the family farm or in another professional setting. The goal is to promote education, training and professionalization most appropriate to rural realities. This process allows the student to learn techniques that will be useful for a rural life and to apply those skills in a way that will benefit their families.
A team of teaching facilitators, from fields of study such as agricultural sciences and home economics, is responsible for the organization and dynamics of teaching activities. The facilitators — together with the Parent Association and private organization partners — also prepare a training plan, always respecting the local agricultural calendar. In addition, the facilitators follow up by viewing the personal projects of each student, especially through visits to their families.
The Rural Family Home movement originated in France in 1937 from the initiative of a group of rural families who proposed professional training combined with humanistic education for their children. Today there are about 1,000 centers worldwide that are based on this model.
The concept was first introduced in Brazil in 1968. The first Rural Family Home was established in the state of Pará in 1994, and today there are currently 14 CFRs operating in the state.
The Rural Family Home of Santarém in the Eixo Forte (CFR-Eixo Forte) was established on April 26, 1999, by 73 parents and family members, after discussion and debate about objectives and benefits for young people and teenagers of the countryside.
CFR-Eixo Forte, which is located between the communities of Santa Maria and São Brás — approximately halfway between Santarém and the tourist town of Alter do Chão — serves the 16 communities in the Eixo Forte region. Learn more about the challenges facing the CFR-Eixo Forte and what CEN is doing to help.