Creating Humanitarian Spaces enters second phase in Brazil’s schools


Creating Humanitarian Spaces (CHS), an awareness-raising programme for students in Rio de Janeiro’s public middle schools, entered into its second phase in April. CHS allows students to discuss with their teachers and peers basic humanitarian principles and issues relating to violence in their neighbourhoods and schools.

The CHS programme is run by the ICRC and Rio de Janeiro’s Department of Education (Seeduc) in middle schools attended by students from neighbourhoods where the ICRC is active: Cantagalo/Pavão-Pavãozinho, Cidade de Deus, Complexo da Maré, Complexo do Alemão, Parada de Lucas, Vigário Geral and Vila Vintém.

"The first year was crucial as it enabled us to evaluate the programme’s relevance and adapt it to different schools and neighbourhoods. We think the CHS programme can contribute to resolving existing difficulties as long as we take into account the realities of each community,” said Stephan Sakalian, head of the ICRC’s office in the Brazilian capital.

Seeduc’s Director-General of Programmes and Projects, Magda Sayão, welcomes the close ties that have developed between her office and the ICRC. "It’s very important to promote prevention activities in schools. The first phase of the CHS programme was a success and we are confident that the second phase will have an even broader impact,” she said.

The activities carried out under the programme since August 2010 are designed to promote behaviour among young people that is conducive to reducing armed violence in schools and in everyday life. Together with students and teachers, the ICRC is helping to create a climate of respect, tolerance and peace – a “humanitarian space” – in schools.
Contents and methodology

The programme is built upon the foundations of basic humanitarian principles and values, such as respect for life and human dignity, and encourages students to think about the dilemmas and questions posed by armed violence and its consequences for people’s lives. The role of the teachers is to raise awareness of humanitarian concepts, using interactive methods, so as to instil in students essential cognitive, social and life skills.
The programme is divided into themes (awareness-raising, humanitarian perspective, humanitarian activities, youth and urban violence, mobilization of young people, safe behaviour and basic knowledge of first aid) that relate to humanitarian principles and armed violence, and that raise questions for discussions in the classroom.
The themes are presented in workshops that have been incorporated into school curriculum and that include interactive exercises, games, group activities and debates. They are also presented through films, analysis of given problems, theatre and exchanges of ideas.

A committee, comprising an ICRC representative, a Seeduc representative and three school representatives (the principal and two teachers), has been set up in each school taking part in the programme in order to oversee the programme’s implementation. Both the committee members and the teachers who run the workshops receive specific training from the ICRC and Seeduc.



Students participate in a debate about violence, teen pregnancy, fear and resilience.
© ICRC / M. Cruppe / br-e-00154


A teacher facilitates a workshop as part of the "Creating Humanitarian Spaces " programme at a school in north Río de Janeiro.
© ICRC / M. Cruppe


The ICRC delegate in charge of "Let's build a humanitarian space" programme in Río de Janeiro meets with the directors of a participating school to plan upcoming activities.
© ICRC / M. Cruppe