Imagine a school where there aren’t any classrooms or fixed schedules or white boards. The teachers meet the student, whether that’s in a hallway, the hospital square, or even the hospital bed. The class begins in whatever subject the student is willing to talk about and discover. It isn’t an ordinary school. It’s Pequeno Príncipe Hospital – an educational hospital, which creates learning opportunities for every child who comes through its doors, in every place, in all of its forms.
Since the 1980’s, Pequeno Príncipe has been on the forefront of offering its patients access to education during their treatment, in a way that promotes the guarantee of an important right for children and teenagers: the right to education. Not only is this program considered a pioneer, it is also systematized, replicable and complementary to public policies.
Annually, about six thousand classes are held to children and teenagers who receive extended treatment at the Hospital. This way, these patients are able to maintain bonds to their original school and continue their studies while they take care of their health.
This work is coordinated by the Hospital’s Education and Culture Department. As well as its own staff, partnerships with the Municipal and State Secretaries of Education make it possible to provide teachers to tutor the students. In 2017, the department consisted of 21 teachers and educators. The school approval rate of the children who participated in these classes was 80%.
Most of these students are chronic patients who need to be hospitalized for longer periods, such as children and teenagers in the Hematology wing, who need hemodialysis, who are undergoing complex orthopedic treatments or that are waiting for a transplant.
The teacher contacts the patients’ original school to follow the subjects that were being taught. The classes are adjusted to each patient’s individual needs and the challenge of balancing the differences between origin, knowledge and expectation opens new opportunities for innovation. “Each person is unique, but this becomes even more apparent when we talk about education. We work with the goal of valuing each person’s own needs, potential, difficulties and wants,” explains Claudio Teixeira, psychologist and coordinator of the Education and Culture Department.
Through partnerships with Public Office, companies and cultural producers, Pequeno Príncipe is also able to offer hospitalized patients, their family members and the institution’s staff the access to varied artistic expressions.
The cultural menu is displayed in the institution’s hallways and consists of a vast schedule that includes musical presentations, theater, dance, art workshops, photography, painting, gardening, storytelling and many other cultural demonstrations. To complete this cultural feast, the library, located on the fifth floor, and mobile carts offer books to everyone. The library was implemented with the support of Swiss watch brand IWC Schaffhausen and the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Foundation.