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News - 28.05.10

FIRST FAIRTRADE-FUNDED SCHOOL OPENS IN ARGENTINA

The first Fairtrade-funded secondary school ever built in Argentina has been officially opened by La Riojana, Argentina’s first Fairtrade certified winery.

The first Fairtrade-funded secondary school ever built in Argentina has been officially opened by La Riojana, Argentina’s first Fairtrade certified winery.

The new secondary school, specialising in agricultural studies, is a Fairtrade project which has been largely funded by the sales of The Co-operative’s own-brand Fairtrade Argentine wine range.  As part of the Fairtrade accreditation, the growers receive a social premium from the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation (FLO), which The Co-operative matches.

The school of agriculture, named after “Julio Cesar Martinez”, the first president of La Riojana co-operative, has been built in the small, isolated village of Tilimuqui located in a poor, remote area of the La Rioja province, northwest Argentina.  A place where children have before now only been offered schooling up to the age of 14.

It was officially inaugurated on 12 May 2010, just two years after the successful inauguration of the Tilimuqui water project, La Riojana’s first joint Fairtrade project with The Co-operative, which provided the village of Tilimuqui with a much-needed water facility

The new school, which is based on non-selective entry, will offer a free technical education based on agriculture to children aged 13 to 18 years old and is expected to benefit hundreds of children from the village of Tilimuqui where many of La Riojana’s workers and families live, as well as nearby villages and towns.

Construction started in October 2008, and its recent inauguration marks the completion of the first two phases of the project, comprising six classrooms, a library, staff room, school office, medical room, bathrooms and a dining room. The first intake in March 2010 was 33 pupils, one third of whom are girls, and once the project is finished, the school’s capacity is expected to reach 300 pupils.

The education is being funded by the nearby National University of Chilecito which is providing qualified teaching staff, as well as school equipment including furniture, books and computers. The university also intends to buy a couple of hectares in Tilimuqui, to provide a farm and to cultivate vineyards and orchards for the children to carry out their practical agricultural education.