Escola da Esperança –

International School of Hope in Tamera

We’re currently working on getting our “Escola da Esperança” [Portuguese for “School of Hope”] accredited as the first international school in the Alentejo region. It will be an open, holistic learning space for children from our community, from the region and all over the globe where they can learn crucial social and ecological knowledge for the future while following what motivates them most.

“Learning is a natural process which happens by itself because life itself is aligned to continuous development and improvement. Learning is not linear but oscillates along a line of tension; an irresistible draw which we call interest, curiosity or intrinsic motivation. An efficient learning system is guided by these motions of life.”



Children and youth are the future of our planet. Each child carries a seed for a humane world. The main goal of the Escola da Esperança – the School of Hope – is to nurture this peace power. By providing children and youth with a social and educational place where they can freely follow their curiosity, develop trust and unfold their natural potential, we can enable them to become active co-creators in this world.

The Escola da Esperança is an educational model based on progressive, internationally researched teaching methods. The aim is to provide the next generation, who are faced with unprecedented challenges, with knowledge about peace-building, cooperation with nature, sustainable ways of living and building community. In an international environment, students learn about different cultures, which is crucial for developing global consciousness and solidarity. Multilingualism and media literacy are very important tools for our students when navigating through the globalized and digitized world.

Based on our experience of bringing up children for the past decades, inspired by free schools such as Summerhill (UK) or Escola da Ponte (Portugal), and by the pedagogical ideas of José Pacheco and Maria Montessori, we:

  • are aware of “sensitive stages of learning”
  • direct learning according to the children’s growth and inner qualities
  • work with materials in a “prepared environment” and offer project work and political journeys
  • take a holistic approach to learning, protecting and strengthening the innate qualities of children and youth, like their creative curiosity, empathy and humaneness, through positive learning experiences.

The key concepts that guide the Escola da Esperança are:

  1. Children are cosmic beings.
  2. The thinking of the future must make wars impossible.
  3. Developing global consciousness and conveying knowledge for a regenerative culture.
  4. Learning is a natural process happening by itself: “Attraction instead of pressure.”
  5. Supporting everyone’s own inner motor of development.
  6. Understanding that the world is a holistic organism.
  7. Creativity as the basis of every evolutionary process and source of children’s play and free learning.
  8. Freedom and orientation require each other.
  9. Experiencing trust and solidarity in community – from “me” to “we.”
  10. Preparing children and youth for lifelong learning.

These are a summary of the key concepts of the Escola da Esperança.

Where We Are

The idea for creating our own school was present when we founded the Children’s Place in 2002. In 2007, our children joined the “Grace Pilgrimage” in Israel-Palestine. After this, they created and performed a political theater piece in different languages and countries, which motivated us even more.

After spending 2012 working on the concept, in 2013, we applied to the Portuguese authorities to open the Escola da Esperança as a private school, through our non-profit NGO “Associação G.R.A.C.E.” While they welcomed our concept, they turned our application down as we can’t build the necessary infrastructure because of planning laws. That same year, we sent our children to the public school in our neighboring village Colos. In 2014, parents who are supported by our team of teachers began teaching in a common homeschooling space at the Children’s Place in Tamera, which all the children now attend. Children between 6 and 16 years old learn basic skills in a mixed group, inspired by Montessori principles.

We’re connected to networks that are innovating education in Portugal (e.g. “Rede Educação Viva” and “Movimento Educação Livre”) and want to become a model school in Portugal for primary and secondary schooling. We also plan to apply for opening up to high school levels in the future to create a formal container for our youth school.

The learning strategies also include traveling, international exchange and theater work while constantly collaborating with innovative learning projects around the world. In 2016, we held our first exchange with the progressive Brazilian school Projeto Âncora in São Paulo to learn from each other and give our children the opportunity to get to know peers living in Brazil’s favelas (read our report ). We continue to cooperate with this and other projects.

Explore in Depth:

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