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Teaching the Teachers in Mozambique

Aduls and children in a field

This project is just one of several that CIDA is supporting in a wide-ranging effort to improve primary education in Mozambique. CIDA is contributing to Mozambique's Education Sector Support Fund which is improving access to education as well as the quality of education available nation-wide. CIDA has also played a key role in ensuring that students and teachers have access to quality textbooks, workbooks and teachers manuals based on the new curriculum developed with Canadian support.

As a result of these efforts, and those of other donors, net primary school enrolment rates in Mozambique have increased from 57 percent in 2002 to an unprecedented 80 percent in 2008.

More than ten thousand students in Mozambique's isolated northern provinces of Cabo Delgado and Niassa — two of the poorest regions in one of Africa's poorest countries — have gone back to school. But these students aren't children — they are teachers, school librarians, and administrators.

Through a project funded by the Canadian International Development Agency and implemented by the Canadian Organization for Development through Education (CODE), a Canadian non-governmental organization (NGO), and by Progresso, a Mozambican NGO, the teaching professionals are receiving training to improve their skills so that they can in turn better help children learn to read and write.

"The benefits of basic literacy to an individual, a household and a community are enormous," says Sean Maddox of CODE. "When children learn to read and write, their self-confidence and self-esteem are significantly enhanced. As adults they are more likely to become engaged in community decision making. They might start businesses and are more likely, as parents, to send their children to school, as well as to be able to support their children in school."

The teachers are not only improving their skills in Portuguese, but also in one of five local languages. This is important because in Mozambique, 94 percent of the people speak a Bantu language mother tongue. Few children learn Portuguese until they actually start school; and until this program, few teachers had the skills to teach a second language. In 2003, 6 schools were offering bilingual education; by 2009, the number had risen exponentially to 73 schools.

Between 2001 and 2009:

  • 10,500 primary teachers and education officers improved their teaching skills in reading and writing
  • 2,120 teachers and education officers were trained in the linguistics, grammar and teaching methodologies for one of five local languages
  • approximately 1,000,000 children's books and reference materials were provided to all school libraries in Niassa and Cabo Delgado

Certainly, the success of the CODE/Progresso program is spreading. Some of the teaching methodologies introduced by Progresso have been integrated into Mozambique's new national curriculum. Other provinces in the country are being encouraged by the Mozambican Ministry of Education to study and adopt the training models developed by Progresso. In September 2005, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) awarded Progresso with a US$15,000 International Reading Association Literacy Prize for their community development work in Mozambique. More recently, the Government of Mozambique has taken charge of printing local language textbooks and is using the material developed through this project for five of the sixteen local languages.

Improving access to education and the quality of education are both part of CIDA's priority theme to secure the future of children and youth; and help contribute to the achievement of Millennium Development Goal #2 - universal primary education.

Keeping girls in school

Mrs. Cosme © CODE

Joaquine Joao Cosme is the Pedagogical Director at Namaua Primary School. She says she always knew that she would complete her own schooling. Although only her father could read, both parents wanted her to study and encouraged her. After completing Grade 7, she went to a teacher training institute for three years and graduated as a teacher. Now, she sees girls who did not receive the support she did. Beyond her regular duties, Mrs Cosme has taken on the challenge of trying to keep girls in school. When a girl drops out, Mrs Cosme invites the parents to come meet her at the school. If they do not show up, she goes to their home to try to convince them to support their daughter's return to school. She understands the challenges facing young girls who marry or become pregnant at 13 or 14, but she believes families and the community can and should support these girls to complete school.

Adapted from a story written by Catherine Macnab, CODE.