At the beginning of the Dictatorship some schools were built, according to regional projects, with granite, slate or bricks and the fronts were adjusted to the landscape.
These schools have a different layout, and show some aesthetic concerns. They also foresee a dressing room and sometimes a teacher’s room.
Old school n. 31, in Oporto
However, the most common are the rural schools with only one teacher.
Primary school, in Monte Real project by Raul Lino
In 1933, a general draft was approved for the construction of these regional schools, which would be built in series. Therefore, seven regions were chosen because of their materials, construction projects and weather conditions: Algarve, Alentejo, Estremadura, Beira Litoral, Beira Baixa do Sul, Trás-os-Montes, and a last one that gathers Minho, Beira Baixa, and Beira Alta. The projects are very interesting in terms of aesthetics quality and foresaw the need of several classrooms.
However, until 1940 there were few schools that were built by the Government. It all depended on the pressure on important local individuals and donations, so that construction could begin.
In twin celebrations the eighth centenary of Portugal’s foundation (1140) and of the re-establishment of the Independence, after a 60 years period in which Portugal was part of the Spanish kingdom (1640), the Dictatorship announced a major plan for schools, which was called the “centenary plan”.
In fact, buildings from this plan are an adaptation of two previous regional projects, regarding the complete segregation of boys and girls: the playgrounds were divided, there were different entrances and the classrooms were also separated by wings or floors, according to the number of classrooms.
School for boys and girls n. 34, in Oporto
School with 4 rooms, in Mira, Portomar
In the rural schools, the most common building had only one classroom. A small building of great simplicity, as the regional project demanded. The decorative elements were eliminated, in order to reduce the costs. Some of these classrooms had no electricity, since it was not yet available in some areas of the country. It was only in the 60’s that electricity was expanded.
This construction plan began in 1944. However, the number of buildings was not as high as it was anticipated.
Primary school in Mira
A new type of urban school was built in high population density centres, which had 4, 6 or more classrooms. This was the result of the project’s enlargement for buildings of one or two classrooms. In those cases, the buildings were only for boys or girls, or foresaw the segregation.
The initial plan of the school constructions for primary school, which was publicized by the Dictatorship, was never completed. It suffered consecutive changes, in order to reduce the costs. Small changes were made on the school’s draft. The classroom’s size was maintained (8m x 6m, and 3.5m high). The technicians considered them smaller than the English or Swiss classrooms.
School n. 27 in Oporto
There weren’t enough schools. The existing schools shared the same conservative conception of teaching and learning, and were confined to reading, writing and mathematics. History and catholic religion were taught according to the nationalist vision.
This conception of teaching foresaw the passivity of the children, not allowing time or space for manual work or boards on the wall to expose the works. The small classroom and playgrounds had no type of material, not even a drinking fountain, since the public water supply to populations was not available. These were the characteristics of the Portuguese schools until the 25th April 74’ Revolution.