Tião Rocha

Centro Popular de Cultura e Desenvolvimento (CPCD)
Year founded: 

CPCD promotes informal education and community development through culture, reciprocal learning, play, games, mobile libraries, theatre and music.

Focus: Education, Culture, Social Development, Sustainability
Geographic Area of Impact: Brazil, Mozambique
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 10,250 (2011)
Annual Budget: US$ 2,243,940 (2011)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 40%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Brazil, 2007

In Brazil, poor urban and rural communities face high dropout and grade repetition rates among youth. The pedagogical approach of the formal education system in Brazil emphasizes rote memory of facts and figures, incorporating little creativity or active dialogue in the classroom.

In 1974 Rocha was teaching history in an elite high school in Belo Horizonte in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. One of his students was 14 year-old Alvaro Prates, an avid reader, intellectual powerhouse and talented musician. He read everything he could get his hands on and continuously challenged his teacher. Sadly, Rocha arrived at school one day to find Alvaro had committed suicide. Alvaro’s death awoke in him the realization that as a teacher he was so focused on imparting knowledge that he had failed to notice the clues the young man was sending him about his depressed state. From then on, Rocha decided to focus on helping students understand their own lives and where they fit into the world.

Innovation and Activities
Tião Rocha created CPCD to promote informal education and community development through culture, reciprocal learning, play, games, mobile libraries, theatre and music.

CPCD has created more than 2,000 innovative educational approaches that have been incorporated into school curricula and non-formal educational programmes. To date more than 20,000 children and young people have gone through CPCD’s programmes.

CPCD has also developed an extensive monitoring and evaluation system whereby all its approaches are tested, refined and perfected for impact and relevance. These social technologies are certified by the Banco do Brasil Foundation and are available through their public databank. Today CPCD is creating an inter-institutional platform where partnering organizations across the country that have found innovative and effective approaches to poverty reduction come together to focus their diverse strengths on transforming one of Brazil’s poorest areas in the state of Minas Gerais.

The Entrepreneur
Tião Rocha’s experience with school from the very beginning was never great. At 7 years of age he was sent to the principal’s office on his first day of school for saying he was the nephew of a queen. He studied history to understand his own culture, and eventually learned that his ancestry was not to be found in history books but in the study of anthropology, which he pursued until he received a Master's degree in the subject. He further specialized in popular culture and folklore. As an adult Rocha launched CPCD with the following questions in mind: Is it possible to promote high-quality education outside of a formal school setting? Can learning become so significant in the lives of children that they demand to have classes on weekends and holidays? Can we create an educational centre that teachers, students and the community can truly fall in love with? The answer: Yes, and we will enjoy ourselves making it come true.