Education Without Borders: The Literacy Journey in Sofala

Reading, writing, counting, and understanding directions and other information are the main skills that 1184 students at our 30 Adult Education Centres (AEA) learn. Many of these centres are in remote communities where there are no nearby schools. For 20 years, we have been implementing this project in the missions of Estaquinha, Mangunde, Barada, and Machanga with the support of Sei So Frei OÖ. These centres restore hope in education for those who have given up and for those who have not yet had contact with a school. Our centres awaken dormant dreams in our students.

Anyone who thinks that these literacy centres are only for adults is mistaken; there are centres where the largest number of students are children and teenagers from the age of 6, such as the Madjimba 2 centre in Estaquinha.


President of the Kupedza Ulombo Association who is also a literacy teacher at the adult education centre

Impact of the Literacy Centre classes

Some of the students who attended the AEA Centre have success and now are employed, and others are entrepreneurs. For example, Celina Mupangame, 31 year old, has been orphaned since she was a child and had her first contact with teaching and learning at the literacy centre in Guakwanhe, Estaquinha. From Estaquinha mission to Guakwanhe it takes 1 hour and 30minutes by car due to the road conditions. She said, “It was by attending the AEA Centre that I discovered that one of my dreams is to be an entrepreneur, and today I own and manage a carpentry shop and have a money transaction services business through a mobile phone company.” She added, “I’m very happy to have attended the AEA, because if I hadn’t, I might not have been able to fight for my dreams”.

Mavô Mapuque, one of the first trainers at the AEA centres, said, “Teaching is planting. I feel very satisfied to be able to see students I taught, now working, and some of them are teachers who also teach other people”.

Think of a group of women who have come together to work the land and dedicate themselves to teaching and learning through literacy centres. At the Machanga mission, we visited the Bea Pea 1 centre, which is 17km from the village of Machanga. At this centre, most of the students are women who are members of the Kupedza Ulombo agricultural association, where the literacy teacher is the president of the association, Helena Nhunho. They are not only concerned with working the land, but also with improving their reading, writing and counting skills, among others. The agrarian works and techniques of Kupedza Ulombo are being supported by Caritas Bolzano in the Agroforestry project.

literacy constriction

Newly constructed classroom in Madjimba2

Building classrooms

Sei So Frei OÖ is funding the Literacy Construction project, the main aim of which is to build 13 classrooms. These classrooms offer better accommodation for students and encourage more students to attend the centres. “We really wanted to continue having classes even on rainy days, and this is now possible with the support of [ESMABAMA and Sei So Frei] who built the classrooms,” said José Domingos, literacy coordinator at the Barada mission.

For the past two decades, the literacy centres have operated under a tree, and during times of wind and rain, it has not been possible to hold classes. The classrooms that have been built will be shared with students from the nearest primary school at times when they are not being used by the literacy students. Most primary schools in rural areas are extremely poorly built (made from stakes and mud or metal sheets).

literacy_lessons under the tree

Testimonies about the classroom’s constructions

education sector - Machanga

Machanga is one of the districts with the most difficult access to education at all levels. The district has a total of 20 literacy centres, 10 of which are run by ESMABAMA. “You can see a positive difference in the centres run by the Association. ESMABAMA is one of our strongest partners”, said Muchawara Sandaca, from the District Education Services in Machanga.

The people did not hide their joy at the construction of the classrooms. The classrooms ensure that they learn in more dignified conditions compared to classes under the tree. It should also be noted that this year two more literacy centres were opened in Machanga, totaling 10.

We thank Sei So Frei OÖ for helping us to realize dreams and restore the hope of education to those who had already lost it.

In this article:
Learning to read, write and count is a right for everyone. However, people in rural areas are less privileged, which is why we have set up literacy centres in the south of Sofala. Find out more about our journey in this article.
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