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What else can we teach students about sustainability in Latin America?

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Featured image: Global Teacher Prize 2016 Finalist Marcio Andrade receives Sustainability Award after becoming a Global Teacher Prize Finalist. Source: Marcio Andrade on Twitter.

As the world moves toward addressing the most pressing environmental issues, outstanding teachers are finding innovative ways to teach their students the importance of environmental sustainability. Today we celebrate two wonderful teachers from South America who were chosen to be among the Global Teacher Prize 2016 Top 50 Finalists in part for their contribution to the environment in their respective countries.

1. Marcio de Andrade Batista – Brazil

Marcio has studied engineering and teaches science and sustainability as a volunteer. He was concerned that schools in his remote state of Mato Grosso have difficulty accessing educational and technological materials and students are therefore excluded from the benefits of scientific research. In collaboration with the state’s university and SENAI, a network for the technical education of young people, Marcio has established the Junior Scientific Starter Programme at a range of schools, giving lectures locally at his own expense.

He has created a methodology for applying scientific and technical concepts in students’ everyday lives. Marcio encourages them to do their own scientific research, question the standard way of doing things and come up with innovative improvements and new products that solve local problems in a sustainable manner. He mainly works with female students from poor families, several of whom have won prizes for their work.

One particular invention of making bread from whey cheese won the most important scientific prize in Latin America, the Young Scientist Prize. Marcio’s student received the prize directly from the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff. In 26 years of the prize’s history, Marcio’s state had never won this scientific award. Marcio himself has also received several prizes in recognition of his contributions to education and scientific development in Brazil.

A short documentary about Marcio and his style of education. Source: Fecomercio SP.

Marcio receives more recognition after becoming a Global Teacher Prize 2016 Top 50 Finalist.

2. Felix Lopez Gimenez – Paraguay

Felix is a teacher at three different secondary schools in Paraguay. One of them is a technical and agricultural school in an impoverished rural zone in the Greater Asunción area. Agriculture and livestock are important aspects of its economy and they are currently at risk when it comes to sustainability. Felix aims to turn this school into a model centre for environmental education that promotes good agricultural practices, integrates the concept of value chains, and teaches sustainable production and waste management. He connects his students with the industrial agricultural environment through internships and trips to research sites, and prepares them for the workplace by teaching them the necessary social skills and abilities.

Under his supervision the school has built two model nurseries and installed a solid organic waste processing plant where the municipality of Luque can bring organic waste, both from individual homes and the town dump, to be converted into soil. In response to high unemployment and migration to the cities, Felix has initiated teaching students the business skills required for establishing and running their own family enterprises, focused on growing and producing organic food in the local green belt.

In addition to learning about finance and negotiation tactics, his students gather hands-on experience by raising animals and farming a plot of land. In this class they make their own decisions and can even take home everything they produce.

Felix receives more recognition for his incredible work after becoming a Global Teacher Prize 2016 Top 50 Finalist.

We are proud to highlight the work of these outstanding teachers from Latin America on a global stage! Learn more details about the 2016 Top 50 Finalists from their profiles.

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