Escola Básica do Falcão and Secundária Alexandre Herculano gain a new life

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More than ten million euros were invested by the Municipality of Porto in the requalification of the Escola Básica do Falcão, in Campanhã, and in the Secundária Alexandre Herculano, in Bonfim. The works of the two educational establishments are completed and were, this Wednesday, visited by the mayor, Rui Moreira, accompanied by the councillor of Education, Fernando Paulo, members of the council team, the president of the Municipal Assembly, administrators of the municipal company GO Porto, which ensured the two interventions, representatives of the parish councils and their school groupings.

"The good news is that next school year, the school will open. This is not just a school, this is an incredible heritage value”, said the mayor. Rui Moreira referred to the Secundária Alexandre Herculano, which will reopen after more than three years of requalification and modernization works, the result of an investment of more than 14 million euros, partially supported by the community funding of NORTE 2020 - North Portugal Regional Operational Programme (also applied at Escola Básica do Falcão).

“What's important is that this is going to open, I'd like to look at this positively, I wouldn't want to be accusing anyone. Of course, there are very good wills, but sometimes good wills are limited by the resources available. We know that the Ministry of Education had few resources for the rehabilitation of schools, so the municipality came into play", said Rui Moreira while emphasizing that "the Parque Escolar, the organization, did not do its work at the time".

“The city did not forgive this equipment remained abandoned and fell as it was”, he added.

After visiting the school - in its corridors, you could see some photographs of the "before and after" of the work - the mayor left a guarantee: "we will have a school that meets all the needs of a contemporary school. Although it will be a century old, this will be a new school”.

Recovered 2010 project

To fully reopen, the "Alexandre Herculano" it is necessary to launch a set of public contracts for the acquisition of furniture, as well as finish some work outside the school. "All the work was done according to the project (from 2010, by the architects Alexandre Alves Costa and Sérgio Fernandez). It was separated from the exterior arrangements (surrounding the building and construction of a covered playground), still to be carried out", said GO Porto vice-president, Cátia Meirinhos.

Regarding the acquisition of furniture, the Councillor for Education revealed that, at the next Executive meeting, the approval of the conclusion of a collaboration agreement between the Municipality of Porto and the Ministry of Education "for equipping the entire school" will be discussed. “We are talking about all kinds of equipment (kitchen, furniture for classrooms, computer equipment) necessary for the school to open”, said Fernando Paulo.

For the director of the Agrupamento de Escolas Alexandre Herculano, the "new" building meets "the comfort conditions required for students to study in decent conditions". "The work was done with discretion, rigour and respect for the heritage value of the building. I am convinced that in September we can start the teaching activities", said Manuel Lima.

"Such a phoenix reborn, [the school] will come back to life", added the same person, adding that the building will have the capacity to receive about 1,000 students, from the 7th to the 12th year of schooling.

The Good Morals teacher who listened to Bob Dylan in class

Francisco Ribeiro da Silva followed the visit with the greatest attention and some nostalgia. He was a teacher of good morals in the sixties, of the last century. Today, he revisited places that left him with grateful memories. “I remember the meetings with the dean, the various services they asked me for, the space”, he told Porto..

Currently a full professor at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Porto, Ribeiro da Silva had, at the time, an idea to captivate students for his classes. “Almost everyone participated in my classes, even if the interest was relative. To captivate them I thought I'd get some material that wasn't boring and I brought Bob Dylan records”.

He translated letters and multiplied copies by the students", even when he had concerns about the dean, because of the noise", he smiles.

“I never thought about converting students, nor was that the goal. I wanted to train people with moral principles, but with a spirit of openness", added Francisco Ribeiro da Silva, leaving a guarantee for the present: “We are in a brave new world, in a new school”.

EB do Falcão fully rehabilitated

Before, Rui Moreira visited the Escola Básica do Falcão, which is already in operation. The intervention was carried out in two lots, aimed at the deep requalification of school equipment and the expansion of existing buildings, in addition to the construction of a connecting corridor between them. A municipal investment of more than one million euros.

The work also included the internal reorganization of spaces, improving their functionality, to create better conditions for teaching and learning. Among the various cores of teaching spaces, an area for the Multidisability Unit is planned. In addition, a new library and storage areas were contemplated, as well as new cabinets and lockers.

On the outside of the school, an improvement of the entrance and accesses was carried out, through the creation of a new route of ramps connecting to the interior of the building. The surrounding playground has been requalified, through the placement of adequate floors, creation of leisure areas, play areas and children's equipment.

The second lot of the project was dedicated to the introduction of natural-based solutions in the school's roofs, through the implementation of green roofs in the building, a green wall and the creation of a pond that allows the use of rainwater for use in the community garden "Horta da Oliveira".

Currently, Escola Básica do Falcão integrates 132 students (41 children in preschool education - kindergarten and 91 students in the 1st cycle).