Loving Literacy All Year Round

International Literacy Day is celebrated each year on September 8. Achieving greater literacy is a key aim of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. More specifically, the focus of SDG Number 4 is to provide an inclusive and quality education for all, and a crucial step in meeting this goal is for all young people to achieve literacy and numeracy.

Planet Aid's Food for Knowledge Project (FFK) in Mozambique is helping make progress toward the achievement of this target. The project is in its third year of implementing a bold new program aimed at raising literacy levels among primary school children. FFK is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program. The project is being implemented in cooperation with the Mozambique Ministry of Education and Human Development.

Leveraging Native Languages

Young children in Mozambique speak one of several native languages when they enter school, but they are frequently taught to read and write in Portuguese, the official language of the nation. This creates an obstacle in their acquisition of early reading skill.

To help facilitate improvements in early reading, Planet Aid and its partners ADPP Mozambique and Cambridge Education are implementing an early grade reading component in the FFK program. This component teaches children to "crack the code" of the written word by learning to read in their mother tongue, which helps to accelerate learning and makes it easier for children to later learn Portuguese.

The FFK project has developed classroom and other early grade reading materials in two national languages, Changana and Rhonga. It has also developed and is implementing teacher and reading-coach training programs. So far, nearly 10,000 children have benefited from the development, production, and distribution of these bilingual learning materials. The project has also trained approximately 300 teachers in the use of the bilingual methods and materials.

Energy and Excitement in the Classroom

Roberto is an experienced teacher at Manguendene Primary School, who teaches early language skills.

"During my teaching career, I have encountered many children who struggle with common challenges, a main one being low performance in Portuguese classes," said Roberto.

Roberto is among the teachers who completed the FFK bilingual training and has since been using its methods in his classroom. He has observed that the students are more expressive and participative. "It is impressive and fun to see grade one students reading; and for this, monolingual teachers often come to visit my classes," he said. He also described how bilingual teaching not only improves the quality of teaching, but also honors a community's language and culture.

Planet Aid applauds teachers like Roberto, who have been working diligently to make literacy a reality for his students. It is because of such teachers that children are able to celebrate their new-found skills all year round.

Click here to read more bulletins about the Food for Knowledge Project.