Escolas Mirim the children’s samba schools of Rio de Janeiro were started in the early 80′s. When entry to the sambodromo is free, their parade opens the Rio de Janeiro carnival on the Friday night of carnival.
There are 12 Escolas de samba Mirins in the Association of children’s samba schools in Rio de Janeiro at the moment. Each school parades with between 1000 and 2000 children, with floats and costumes made by the children, a samba drum orchestra of children called bateria, with the help of hundreds of adults along the parade.
The children’s escolas mirins have a serious purpose behind the show of the parade. They are educational and social projects designed to complement a formal school education, particularly for young people of 14 – 21 years of age, and to train them up to professional standards in the crafts practiced in a samba school.
This task is urgent, as the children’s samba schools are situated in areas of high social risk and exclusion. The aim is to provide a pathway out of the marginalisation and violence found mainly in the favelas and slums of this most beautiful city. The work of an Escola Mirim results in a samba school parade, whilst giving training in design, costume making, metalwork, carpentry, lighting, sound, music, dance, people management and administration, and many ancillary skills.
“We have a rule – you can only parade in this bateria if you come to the rehearsals.” The president of one of the newer children’s samba schools said in 2000 that the objective of his project was partly to train future samba players. But much more important was to take the children off the streets.
The new Associacao das Escolas Mirins do Rio de Janeiro took over from the old League of children’s samba schools in 2002. They are currently funded by the Prefeitura do Rio de Janeiro as part of the city wide project O Projeto Célula Cultural.
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