Young learners demonstrate literacy gains in special visit

By: Leopoldino Jerónimo and Kelsey Woodrick

November 19, 2018

Angelca, the big shadow tree and the key to learning

After a long day at Naiculo Primary School in Mozambique, 7-year-old Angelca’s excitement grew as she walked to the shadow tree. There she joined six village elders, local musicians, a theater group and her fellow first graders to prepare for one of the most important days of her young life.

Angelca and others met at the shadow tree nearly every day for several weeks to practice singing, dancing, reading and theater for a special visit.

U.S. Agency for International Development Mission Director to Mozambique Jennifer Adams and Minister of Education and Human Development Conceita Sortane were visiting Naiculo Primary School, one of the 906 Vamos Ler! (Let’s Read!) schools, to celebrate the program’s achievements.

Designed to improve early grade reading in Grades 1 – 3 in three local languages, Emakhawa, Elomwe, and Echuwabo Let’s Read! provides children with the opportunity to learn to read and write in their home language, before transitioning to full Portuguese instruction in Grade 4.

Let’s Read! is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and is implemented by Creative Associates International in close partnership with World Education, Inc., Overseas Strategic Consulting, American Institutes for Research and blueTreeGroup.

Angelca is one of more than 122,000 first grade students learning in her local language, Emakhuwa, in the Let’s Read! program.

Angelca demonstrated her reading abilities for the community’s special guests. Photo by Leopoldino Jerónimo.

Angelca is a star student. She rarely misses a day of school, turns in her homework on time and actively participates in class. Dressed in her white and blue uniform, Angelca was ready and waiting near the familiar tree. She held her Emakhuwa reading book in her hands, making sure that her page was marked for easy access for her reading demonstration.

Though she had never held a microphone before climbing onto the stage, Angelca proudly read the passage in the Emakhuwa language—and the crowd cheered.

Following the story, Mission Director Adams told the audience that the local community plays a key role in the success of the program. She called upon the support of school managers, teachers, students and the community at large to continue to send their children to school and work together so that the children learn and can later contribute to development of the district and country.

Building an educational foundation

Seven-year-old Angelca reads a passage from her school book. Photo by Leopoldino Jerónimo.

When observing the students in the classroom, Minister Sortane was delighted to see learners happily interacting with the instructor and reading with confidence.

It was very interesting and impressive to see how the teacher promotes a continuous dialogue with her students, even while teaching sounds and decoding words. I could see that her students were very eager to participate… This demonstrates how important it is that a child learns through [their] own and local language,” said Sortane.

Adams had one last word of advice and encouragement for Angelca and her classmates before leaving the community.

If you want your dreams to turn into success, you must not give up school and use this opportunity to learn. School is the key to success in life and to enjoy life at the full extent,” she said.

U.S. Agency for International Development Mission Director to Mozambique Jennifer Adams (center left) and Minister of Education and Human Development Conceita Sortane (center right) visiting the Vamos Ler! project.

With editing by Ashley Williams.

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