The seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton visited today the Lasar Segall State School in the city of São Paulo to talk to the students and attend the inauguration of a mural created by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra. The work done by the school is supported by the partnership signed by the Ayrton Senna Institute with the São Paulo State Department of Education to implement the full education policy in the State, since 2019.

The Lasar Segall State School was chosen to host the visit due to its good practices related to the development and monitoring of students’ social and emotional skills, including during the covid-19 pandemic.

Hamilton, who is in São Paulo for the Brazilian GP, attended the event together with Viviane Senna, president of Ayrton Senna Institute, authorities, educators and students. Everyone also witnessed the inauguration of a mural created by local artist Eduardo Kobra. The mural, which was a gift to the school, portrays the newest Brazilian citizen, Lewis Hamilton, holding the helmet of his idol Ayrton Senna, also showing his connection with Brazil.

“Ayrton always believed that the secret of success is opportunity. He once told me that he didn’t want to be a person who does well in a country that doesn’t, so he wanted to share the opportunity he had with other people,” said Viviane during the meeting, recalling that not all Brazilian children and young people have the opportunity to have a high-quality education in the country.

“Besides knowing Portuguese and mathematics, in the 21st century it is also necessary to know how to work in a team, have initiative, determination, tolerance. Knowing how to live together and respect what is different, regardless of skin colour, religion or political party”, added Viviane Senna, reminding that full education is one of the most important tools to achieve this goal.

Education has been a central cause for Hamilton. During the visit to the school, he had the chance to talk to the students of the Final Years of Elementary School, as well as hearing the story of the young Marcos Ferrari, who currently works as a pedagogical coordinator in the municipal network of Pereira Barreto (SP). Marcos took part in projects of the Ayrton Senna Institute when he was still a student and spoke about the encouragement he received from his teacher during this period, which made him decide to become a teacher.

Touched by the stories, Hamilton commented that, when he was in school and did not get good grades, he’d hear from people that he would not succeed. “So you have to believe in yourself to be able to be anything you want,” Hamilton said during the conversation with the students. “Today, I see that education is really essential to increase our opportunities for the future. It is the tool that can expand our minds and make us believe that we can achieve anything we want,” added Hamilton.

Comprehensive education to reduce inequalities

Even after the peak of the covid-19 pandemic, the crisis in Brazilian education goes on and accumulates urgent challenges. Studies point to losses in basic education, indicating a setback of almost ten years in the quality of education in the country. Besides the emergency effort to rebuild learning and fight truancy, the impacts on students’ mental health also deserve attention. A recent research by the Ayrton Senna Institute shows that 49% of students in São Paulo say they are incapable, not very capable or only moderately capable of being persistent, indicating the need to strengthen the socio-emotional skills of children and young people .

To move forward in this challenging scenario left by the pandemic – which included the closure of schools in the country for two years, we will need a major turnaround. It’s no use just focusing on content – we also need to stimulate the socio-emotional development of students in an intentional and planned way, promoting focus, determination, curiosity to learn, among other characteristics, just like we do with science or mathematics, given the proven positive impact of socio-emotional development on learning.

The mission of the Ayrton Senna Institute is to transform the Brazilian reality through a more meaningful education that is committed to reducing inequality. For almost three decades, the organization has been producing cutting-edge knowledge and implementing measures aimed at improving the quality of public education, in a constant search for innovation. Throughout this time, millions of Brazilian children and young people have had their lives transformed – Ayrton Senna’s great dream. By 2022, it is estimated that around 196 thousand educators and 2.8 million children and young people throughout the country will benefit from the initiatives focused on integral education brought by the Institute to the public education networks.

Currently, the partnership with the São Paulo educational network is taking place on several fronts, from the incorporation of social-emotional development in updating teaching materials, production and review of teaching materials for the Life Project component, training of teachers and administrators and applications to monitor social and emotional competences with educators and students. By the end of the year, the Institute will carry out actions to honour other schools in the São Paulo network that have also managed to implement good practices to be disseminated to other territories.

Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra presents a school with a new mural

The Lasar Segall State School was presented with a mural painted by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra dedicated to Lewis Hamilton, celebrating the driver’s connection with Brazil and his idol, Ayrton Senna. Born in Jardim Martinica, a poor neighbourhood in the southern part of the city of São Paulo, Eduardo Kobra has become one of today’s most recognised muralists, with works on five continents. Kobra has murals exhibited in several Brazilian cities, as well as in countries such as England, France, the United States, Russia, Greece, Italy, Sweden and Poland.

In a statement for the International Motivation Seminar, held by the Ayrton Senna Institute in 2021, Kobra spoke about his motivation to create art and shared the connection of art with his life purpose, showing how his curiosity to learn has enabled new paths in his activism. Learn more: