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The challenge is to have children who are able to read and write - Olivia Machel, Responsible for Literacy component

FFK2 23062017aOne of the main issues raised by the introduction of school meals was: If children miss school less than before, why do they not improve their educational achievement? One of the answers was the observation that the children went to school, but did not assimilate to the subjects taught, partly due to the fact that they did not know the language in which the subjects were taught, in this case, the Portuguese language.

In order to overcome this gap of increased number of student attendance and low achievement, FFK decided to introduce, in its second phase 2016/2020, the Literacy component, with the aim of empowering children in reading and writing skills in Xichangana and Xironga languages in bilingual mode and in Portuguese, in monolingual teaching.

"Our main focus is to have the largest number of children finishing third grade who know how to read and write", points out Olivia Machel, responsible for the Literacy component, who states that "it is proven internationally that a child learns better in the Language that they dominate, which is why we decided to move towards bilingual teaching with locally spoken and monolingual languages, through the empowerment of teachers in different pedagogical methodologies to make learning more flexible, in addition to the distribution of reinforcement materials".

The materials are produced by the Literacy groups in coordination with the Ministry of Education and Human Development (MINEDH) and specifically target these programs, but the use of these are not forbidden elsewhere.

"There are 12 titles of Xichangana and Xironga student books, 12 story books(read out loud), 3 decodable books, a teacher's manual, letter cards and conversation posters for developing listening and speaking skills", reveals.

However, despite the existence of such materials, teaching is based on the training of human resources to teach, and as a result, 27 facilitators have already been trained in reading and writing reinforcement to support teachers in schools . At the same time, 169 first-class teachers were trained in student-centered bilingual teaching methodologies, but they were also trained in five pillars, based on the phonic method. Later this year 800 teachers will be trained.

"Therefore, we train them in phonemic awareness, phonetics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension, always with the macro objective of letting the children know how to read and write until the conclusion of the third class," he reiterated.

With bilingual education, it is expected to cover, by 2020, 80,000 students, among first, second and third class students. "Our wish was to cover all the schools involved, but this was not possible for several reasons. Each year we are going to introduce 10,000 more children in the first class and, as they advance, we will continue to assist them until they complete the third class". At present, this teaching covers about 10,000 children in 75 schools in the four districts covered, namely Manhiça, Magude, Matututine and Moamba.

Olívia also referred to the great relationship of cooperation and partnership with Cambridge Education and the National Institute for the Development of Education (INDE), institutions with which FFK project has cooperated and exchanged experiences, such as the preparation of materials and adoption of new methodologies. "The symbiosis is positive, especially if we look at the experiences accumulated among all," she concluded.

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