The origin of the relevance that Votorantim gives to education is confused with the company’s beginnings and with a commitment by the family of entrepreneurs and shareholders to the cause.

One of Antonio Pereira Ignacio’s great investments in the early days of Votorantim was the improvement of the workers’ village, where, among others, he installed the Pereira Ignacio primary school and a daycare center. The students’ newsletters were delivered to him, who personally controlled the grades. The good students were going to do the gymnasium (today elementary school) in Sorocaba, with scholarships granted by Pereira Ignacio.

And from those first years, many others followed with investments increasingly organized and consistent in actions aimed at accessing and improving education.

Nursery for children of employees of Fábrica de Tecidos Votorantim, 1920s.


The trajectories of the pioneers Antonio Pereira Ignacio and José Ermírio de Moraes reveal their connection with education as a way of personal growth and of winning the world.

Pereira Ignacio had a humble origin, arrived in Brazil at the age of 10, in 1884, without knowing how to read or write. And that was one of the reasons why he placed great importance on education. Not only in Brazil, but also in his homeland, Portugal, he maintained projects and invested resources to expand access to education.


Pereira Ignacio helped the population of Baltar, in Portugal, with several actions, among them the creation of free school courses and day care. He built a big house where he stayed when he went to Portugal. In the back of the house, in addition to serving food for children and the elderly, a teacher was paid to teach children to read and write.

Born in 1900, in the interior of Pernambuco, José Ermírio de Moraes went to study at the primary school in Upatininga, the old village of Lagoa Seca, a few kilometers from Engenho Santo Antônio, where he lived. Arriving in his teens, José Ermírio goes to study in Recife at Colégio Alemão. In it the boy learned the German and English languages. Some time later he realized that higher education in Recife was quite restricted. D. Chiquinha, his mother, encouraged his son to seek technical training in the United States. At the age of 16 José initially went to the University of Baylor, for a short time, and soon afterwards to the Colorado School of Mines, a stage of great learning for the young man who was to become a great businessman and also a Senator of the Republic.

In an interview with the Estado de São Paulo newspaper in 1936, José Ermírio de Moraes shows his opinion on the country’s education, when he comments on the government wanting to raise taxes to supply education. “Who will refuse to make their contribution so that the 500 thousand children who are still out of school today, may tomorrow enjoy this privilege, the primary obligation of the State?”

In the 1940s, when the school where his children studied, Rio Branco, would be closed by its owner Sampaio Dória, José Ermírio de Moraes was dismayed by Dória saying that the school was not profitable. “College doesn’t close! I buy the college. ” And so José Ermírio de Moraes acquires Rio Branco for 75 thousand dollars. Shortly thereafter he donates the institution to the Rotary Club, its sponsor to this day.

Later José Ermírio de Moraes would donate to Pernambuco the laboratory of the School of Chemistry of the University of Recife and the building of the School of Minas.


During his passage through the Senate, José Ermírio de Moraes also showed his concern with Education. When he moved to Brasília, he reformed the farm that would live with his wife Helena Pereira de Moraes. He took advantage of the land and built a school, handed it over to the city hall and paid the teacher to provide education to children in the periphery.

In another episode, José Ermírio de Moraes became friends with Senator Eurico Rezende, who owned the University of the Federal District. José asked Eurico to select five of the best students from his colleges among those of poor origin, so that he could provide scholarships until they graduated. But he demanded that beneficiaries should not know who the benefactor was.

And on October 28, 1969 José Ermírio de Moraes delivered his speech called “36 fundamental points for the economic independence of Brazil”. In one of the points he stresses that it would be necessary to create a system that would dedicate 20% of the Union’s budget to Education and 10% to Health, with emphasis on university education.

Correspondence of thanks to José Ermírio de Moraes for the allocation of resources to schools and universities while Senator, 1969

For Brazil to grow

Votorantim is a company that grew with Brazil. When the country went through the advance of industrialization and growth in the 1950s and 1960s, the need for specialized labor to supply the most diverse areas of the industry grew. These desires were reflected in the public reports of the company, such as the one from 1960 that said “We need to expand, more and more, the specialized courses in the training of chemical, metallurgical, geologists, geophysicists, as well as qualified production heads who, ultimately, represent the connection between the engineer and the foreman. We need to create technical schools, perfectly organized, to serve young people who want to improve, even if it costs us taxes and fees. It cannot be understood that a nation of almost 70 million inhabitants, graduates just over a thousand engineers a year, (…), if we want to progress quickly and on the basis. ”.

That is why, in these years from 1958 to 1971, we see the company investing in the creation of technical schools, the donation of scholarships and the structuring of universities.

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Antônio Ermírio de Moraes took office at Academia Paulista de Letras, 1999.