"It's possible to eliminate illiteracy in Mozambique"

We are implementing innovative approaches in the country, working closely with the Government authorities, supporting them technically and financially. We are strengthening the ALE National Working Group, Online ALE monitoring System, working in the field through Community Literacy Forum.

It's possible to eliminate illiteracy in Mozambique: DVV International Country Director in Mozambique, José Mucupa.

Since 2008, DVV International has been active in Mozambique where it develops specially innovative and needs-oriented literacy offers. In this interview, DVV International Communications Officer, Dyson Mthawanji, talks to DVV International Country Director for Mozambique, José Mucuapa, who gives us a picture of various developments in Adult Learning and Education (ALE) field in Mozambique. Excerpts:

Tell us a brief background of Adult Learning and Education (ALE) in Mozambique.

Adult literacy was one of the priorities of the first post-independence in Mozambique. Several national Adult Literacy campaigns have been carried out to mobilise the population for literacy related activities. The effects of the war and the economic crisis in the 1980s had a negative impact on admission to non-formal education and Adult Learning and Education (ALE). Non-governmental providers, such as associations, community groups and religious organisations provided most of this education. The programmes undertaken by these organisations were on a small scale, but sought to innovate in the provision of education services for women, youth and adults (Ministry of Education, Strategic Plan 2012-2016).

From the year 2000, the country had no framework policy or strategy for the ALE sector but with support from DVV International and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a national Strategy for Adult Literacy and Learning was developed covering the period 2010-2015. The arrival of this strategy marked a significant milestone in the recognition of the importance of ALE sector to national development. However, the strategy’s implementation was hampered by consistently low budget allocation. The strategy was extended to 2018 to bring it into line with the National Education Strategy. Mozambique is currently developing a new Education Sector Strategy. A sector analysis was completed in April, 2019, which will inform the process. ALE will be one section of this national strategy, as opposed to having a standalone framework as in the past. UNESCO is the lead grant agency for the education donors in this process, and DVV International is working in partnership with them to ensure that the ALE component of the strategy is responsive to the needs of the sector. DVV International is also taking a leading role in supporting and lobbying for the inclusion of civil society voices from the ALE sector in the strategy development.

What is the extent of illiteracy in Mozambique? 

According to 2017 Census, Mozambique’s illiteracy rate is at 39% moving from 50.4% in 2007. Men’s illiteracy rate is at 27.2% while that of women is at 49.4% moving from 34.6% and 64.2% respectively in 2007.

Is Mozambique making progress on Adult Learning and Education?

The Government of Mozambique had involved public and private sectors to deal with a matter of Adult Literacy and Education. There many good practices from the Government and the partners throughout literacy works with several programmes such as "Alfa Regular", "Alfa Radio", "Functional Alfa", "Alfalit", "Family without Illiteracy", "Reflect" and "Alpha" in local languages. The Report on the Millennium Development Goals in Mozambique estimated that between 2010 and 2014, about 4 million people participated in these programmes. It also led to the creation of five training institutions for Adult Educators, among other actions carried out. Furthermore, according to the 2017 Census, there are huge changes in the illiteracy rates, as we can see, it was possible to reduce the illiteracy rates from 50.5% (2007) to 39.0% (2017).

Does Mozambique have a national policy for ALE? If yes, how is it contributing to the success of ALE in the country?

Yes, there is a Strategic Education Plan 2020-2029. In this plan, the Ministry of Education and Human Development (MINEDH) welcomes several non-formal education initiatives, including those promoted by DVV International. For example, the MINED has made great strides in including the new approach of Integrated Adult Education in the Adult Education curricula, and is willing to expand this initiative nationwide. MINEDH's senior staff is currently visiting the Integrated Adult Education implementation areas promoted by DVV International and partners to ensure that the Government's adoption of this approach is a success.

One of the ways to make ALE attractive is to go beyond literacy lessons by providing other skills that will benefit participants in their everyday endeavours. What is DVV International in Mozambique doing on this? Are there any Integrated Adult Education interventions?

DVV has introduced an Integrated Programme (IP) for Adult Education that confronts the key problems and priorities identified in the new strategy. The IP combines skills acquisition in various areas (Savings and loans, agriculture, entrepreneurship, health, etc.) with literacy and numeracy skills. Since 2019, the MINEDH has begun replicating the IP. This shift in focus will affect the types of ALE programmes that will be promoted nationally in the future, as well as through the strategy in development, and will have a knock-on effect for training and curriculum development. DVV International is thus also supporting MINEDH to integrate ALE modules into the national curriculum for teacher training to ensure that all trained educators graduating from Teacher Training institutions are competent in ALE. 

What are some of the DVV International’s milestones in Mozambique?

We are implementing innovative approaches in the country, working closely with the Government authorities, supporting them technically and financially. We are strengthening the ALE National Working Group, Online ALE monitoring System, working in the field through Community Literacy Forum. These are some of the milestones.

What is your take on government’s efforts to curb illiteracy in Mozambique?

In fact, there is a political will to reverse the current status of illiteracy in Mozambique. A few years ago, the Government, through the Ministry of Education, submitted a draft education law to the parliament, and this received a satisfactory appreciation from the Parliament. It is from this background that we have Education Strategic Plan 2020-2029. However, the Government has to do more for education and especially for Adult and Youth Literacy and Education when it is known that approximately 1% of the budget goes to Adult Literacy and Education.

Do you see illiteracy being eliminated in Mozambique?

It is possible to eliminate illiteracy. However, it is not an easy road due to various socio-economic factors. For example, on the 14th June 2021, during the launch of the Global Education Week, an event organised by Education for All Movement, the Minister of Education recognised that there’s low budget allocation for Education and even low for some education subsystem including Adult and Youth Literacy and Education. Although assuming that there is   a Strategic Education Plan that has already been established for the period of 2020-2029 still there more that should be done. The illiteracy rate is still too high (39%), according to Census 2017.

Are there any challenges that ALE stakeholders face in Mozambique? If yes, how is the country addressing these challenges?

Despite the different initiatives of the Government of Mozambique and its partners, illiteracy remains a major challenge in this country. In an analysis of educational policies, UNESCO found that more than 30% of young Mozambicans (15 to 24 years old) and almost half of adults (15 and over) are illiterate and women represent 69% of illiterate adults. There are still wide geographical disparities in illiteracy between provinces, ranging from a 10% illiteracy rate in the Maputo city and 61% in Cabo Delgado.

In the light of the challenges described above, an external evaluation carried out for the Adult Literacy and Education Strategy 2010-2015, identified priorities for the next four years. The main recommendations of this evaluation included the following actions: (i) decentralising the management of the Literacy Programme at the provincial and district levels; (ii) improving the Monitoring and Evaluation process; (iii) updating the Adult Literacy and Education Strategy 2010-2015 and its Operational Plan and extend its validity until 2019, in order to align with the Government's Five-Year Programme 2015-2019 and the timeline of the Strategic Education Plan. The Government also decided to prioritise the development of literacy programs in the Mozambican languages ​​as a fundamental tool to improve the quality, relevance and learning results

What is your final message to ALE stakeholders in Mozambique?

They should continue participating in IAE genuine Programmes and produce impacts by improving people’s livelihoods and their health through the knowledge acquired in the process of Integrated Adult Education. We should mobilise men to attend the literacy classes, and we should reduce dropouts among men. DVV International in Mozambique believes that literate people can actively contribute to local, provincial and national development.



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