On-going Projects

Integrated Programme: A New Approach to Literacy In Mozambique

The Mozambican Government offers many literacy programmes. Dropout rates are however often high. DVV International analysed the reasons and developed a new approach that helps participants to keep on learning.

Mozambique has a population of around 29 million. According to the National Statistics Institute (2016), 60 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, on less than US$1.90 a day, placing Mozambique among the ten poorest countries in the world. The majority of the population lives in rural areas, engaging in subsistence farming. One of the country’s biggest challenges is the high illiteracy rate of almost 45 percent. This makes reducing illiteracy one of the main priorities of the Mozambican Government. However, most of the mainly government-run literacy and adult education programmes in the country suffer from high dropout rates of around 40 percent.

The Reasons for High Dropout Rates

By analysing reports from numerous programmes in recent years, and from the testimony of participants, DVV International identified some of the key reasons for the high dropout rates. First of all, many participants feel that these programmes are of limited relevance to their daily lives. Another issue is that literacy programmes often combine learners of mixed abilities in the same classes, which poses a challenge for learners and facilitators alike. Many adult learners also consider that the adult education programmes are too long (e.g. three years for the national literacy programme). Finally, inflexible learning timetables and schedules often clash with other activities, such as the agricultural calendar, thus causing large numbers of willing participants to drop out every year.

Based on this analysis, DVV International developed the “Integrated Programme” in Mozambique. This is a new approach that it has been implementing with the support of local civil society partners and the Ministry of Education in the two pilot provinces of Maputo and Sofala since 2014.

How to keep participants in the classroom The Integrated Programme is based on the needs of learners; it is flexible and enables the integration of learners at different levels. The key features of the programme are as follows:


All literacy and numeracy activities are based on the day-to-day lives and activities of the participants. For example, in classes with farmers, the curriculum is adapted so that the entire content (vocabulary and numeracy activities) is based on farmers’ real everyday livelihood activities.

A modular curriculum

Thematic modules allow participants to move flexibly through the course, with the overall classroom time greatly reduced compared to other programmes. Participants who may be forced to drop out for various reasons can easily re-join without having to repeat the entire year’s course. They can re-enter at the level of competence that matches their abilities.

After the programme, I started my own small business. I now know how to calculate my profits, and have learned the importance of saving money in a bank. I know how to use mobile banking and how to make a call on my mobile phone or read an SMS. And I no longer have trouble using public transport as I can read the signs on the buses”, Marta Armando Tovele, participant of the programme in Matola, Maputo Province.

Many things have changed in my life thanks to the programme. I understand the agricultural calendar now and have learned to rotate crops. I now know when the rains are due, so I know when I need to plant my seeds. Nobody short-changes me any more either since I have learned to read, write and count”, Gracinda Nhantumbo, participant of the programme in Maputo City.

Short duration of the programme 

The Integrated Programme can be completed in around 360 hours over approximately 15 months, depending on the weekly timetable agreed by the participants. This is significantly shorter than the three years of the national literacy programme. This is made possible by the specially-adapted curriculum, which is more streamlined than most literacy curricula.

Flexible calendars and timetables 

The participants determine the monthly and weekly timetables and calendars, as well as deciding on the language to be used. They do this as part of a participatory approach inspired by a mix of the best practices from formal literacy programmes, combined with elements of non-formal programmes such as REFLECT (Regenerated Freirean Literacy through Empowering Community Techniques).

Streamlined learning levels

The programme allows for easy integration of learners of various levels, which reduces the challenge that facilitators face in teaching mixed-level classes that also cause large numbers of learners to drop out. This is achieved through initial evaluations of all learners, after which they are assigned to classes of the appropriate level.

Next Steps

DVV International has been piloting the approach since 2014. About 2,000 participants in the provinces of Maputo and Sofala have benefited from the Integrated Programme so far. The programme has now been evaluated and further improved based on the recommendations made. Due to the success of the approach and the low dropout rates of around 5 percent, the Mozambican Ministry of Education and Human Development has expressed an interest in adopting the Integrated Programme and replicating it nationwide in cooperation with DVV International. The approach will also be replicated by DVV International in Malawi from 2018 onwards in partnership with the Government and partners there.

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