Bebedouro and Santa Amelia are two urban communities located outside of Maceió, Alagoas in the northeast, the poorest region of Brazil. The community is home to hundreds of people, the majority of whom are unemployed with local unemployment estimates ranging from 70 to 80%. In the northeast, students have an average of 5.1 years of formal education according to statistics from the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística.
Escola Estrela do Mar, the Starfish School, is a school modeled on the principles of providing innovative education for approximately 100 underprivileged children from age three to high school. Many of the children come from impoverished homes with one or two unemployed parents. The children are in school for a full day rather than the standard half day. Lunch and snacks are provided throughout the day.
Part of the Starfish School’s model is based on holistic learning, so the children learn physical education, computer skills, and English lessons. Schooling is provided free to the children and is based from donations to their overseeing NGO.