Learning literacy as a family in Mozambique

09 January 2019

In Mozambique, adult illiteracy stands at 45% and is almost twice as common in women than in men. It is more prevalent in rural areas, where 57% of non-literate people live compared to 23% in urban settings.

Illiteracy has a significant impact on the daily lives of individuals. It prevents them from accessing high-paying jobs, as well as equal involvement in their local community, and social and political discourse. It also perpetuates intergenerational cycle of poverty and slows long-term economic growth.

The Capacity Development for Education (CapED) Programme, UNESCO’s delivery platform for the Education 2030 Agenda, has engaged in efforts to tackle this challenge. CapED is working alongside the government to develop a new curriculum for Primary Education for Youths and Adults, which is currently being piloted in Mozambique. The Programme also builds the capacities of teacher-trainers who will go on to instruct teachers of non-literate adults and youths.

CapED is also supporting a Family Learning Programme, which was originally developed by the Malala Fund. CapED enriched the programme by developing the content of its learning manual, and supported the training of literacy teachers to use this manual.

The Programme’s aims is to equip non-literate families with literacy, numeracy and life-skills, such as hygiene techniques, nutrition and parenting. The programme also aims to address the scarcity of early childhood education in Mozambique, as only 4% of under 5-year-olds receive this type of education. The programme therefore equips parents with the skills they need to support the early development of their children and prepare them for primary school education through joint learning.

The Family Learning Programme is currently being rolled out in two provinces, Nampula and Maputo. We spoke to some locals of Nampula who have been involved in the Family Learning Programme to hear about their experiences. The province has a population of 6.1 million and over half of adults are non-literate. 


© UNESCO

Adult Education Learners undergo literacy tests, Nampula Province.

“I can see a big difference between children who go to school and children who do not go.”

40-year old Maria Nhagegue and her husband Augusto Bernardo, who works as a fisherman and has seven children, are both enrolled in the Family Learning Programme. The programme has had a large impact on their family, affecting their relationships with each other, and with their wider community, as with literacy skills they can better participate in society.

Due to financial difficulties, neither Augusto nor Maria attended school as children. When asked what the Family Learning Programme brought them Augusto said they are both more open with their children now. Maria added that she “can feel changes within my family and with the outside community,” explaining that their interpersonal relations had improved. Augusto also discussed how his children have better Portuguese skills. “I can see a big difference between children who go to school and children who do not go.”


© UNESCO

Maria, and her child Deluzia holding a pen.

“We don’t have an appropriate place to learn but my students come anyway.”

We also talked to 27-year-old mother of four, Zanaida Ayuba who is a trained adult educator, responsible for 24 learners in the Family learning Programme.

She said, “Our main challenge is the lack of books for post-literacy programmes. In addition, we don’t have an appropriate place to learn but my students come anyway.” She told us that learners appreciated learning about nutrition, hygiene, and family dynamics and they found leaning to read and speak Portuguese the most challenging. “They use the knowledge [mathematics] for their daily lives, for calculations in the market, paying for transport, how to manage and understand their machamba [small plots of agricultural land].”

Zanaida’s own training on teaching the Family Learning Programme had encouraged her to change her own habits with her four children. “I am now more motivated to oversee and support my children with homework discuss issues and what they learn at school”, she says.

The CapED Programme: Improving the quality of adult literacy and education programmes, especially for young women in rural areas. Learn more