Bilingual education was introduced in Mozambique in 2003 as a strategy to boost the teaching and learning process in children, as well as to reinforce reading and writing in the early grades, since children learn best in the language they master the most.
The project Support Reading! funded by USAID-Mozambique, and implemented by the consortium led by and composed of APRODER, h2n and UniRovuma, is strengthening reading in 12 districts of Nampula province, namely "Rapale, Mecuburi, Ribaue, Lalaua, Malema, Morrupula, Mogovolas, Moma, Monapo, Mossuril, Memba and Erati", covering 750 elementary school. One of its activities was a reading contest that awarded prizes to the highest scoring students, their teachers and schools, in a ceremony that coincided with the celebration of the International Children's Day in the Monapo district, which this year took place under the slogan "PEACE IS IN A CHILD'S SMILE" on the margins of the seventy-second anniversary of its creation by the United Nations.
The ceremony began with the laying of a wreath in the square of Mozambican heroes, in the town of Monapo, and was attended by the National Deputy Director of Primary Education, Dr. Graça Cumbe, the Monapo District Administrator, Mr. Araujo S, the Director of the Reading Support Project, Mário Pacate, the USAID Provincial Advisor, Raju Lourenço, Community Leaders, School Directors, students and teachers from different schools participating in the reading contest, at the Monapo district level.
The reading contest started at the class, school, Zone of Pedagogical Influence (ZIP), Locality, Administrative Post phase, and the winners competed at the district phase, where they were awarded with a kit composed of a folder containing 10 notebooks, 10 pencils, a pencil case, and a box of crayons. Also, the students with the highest scores took to their respective schools two pairs of eleven-a-side soccer equipment, balls, and to the three students who placed first in both sports, their teacher received a cell phone.
The reading contest is set in the regulation of the Ministry of Education and Human Development, through the National Action Plan for Reading and Writing, with the objective of stimulating the students' taste for reading.
The contest was divided in monolingual and bilingual modalities, and the contestants are primary school students. Each child had to read a 100-word text in one minute, and the jury noted the number of words read incorrectly in order to award a score.
The USAID representative, referred to the demonstration of the children's reading skills as a result of the involvement of parents and guardians, in the education of their children.
"Education happens between the student and the teacher, however because it is such an important activity for the development of any nation, it must be supported by the community and the parents. When parents reinforce reading, writing, and mathematics at home, their children acquire better results at school, especially in the first years of schooling" - she said.
Graça Cumbe, expressed the satisfaction of MINEDH for the collaboration of the project Support Reading! in the implementation of the National Action Plan for Reading and Writing, whose objective is to promote actions that encourage the taste for reading and writing in students with the involvement of all segments of society, including parents and guardians. At the end of his speech, he invited the implementer to promote the reading contest in other districts of the province in order to reach more children.
The district administrator said that the problem of the quality of teaching in the component of reading and writing in the early grades is a challenge in the education sector and that, due to its impact, it ends up being a concern of the whole society. And because of this, one of the priorities of the Government's Five-Year Program 2020-2024 is to boost the acquisition of skills and essential competencies in reading, writing, and basic calculations in children.
The project director hopes that the actions of the project will increase the involvement of parents and guardians, and also encourage the efforts of teachers, and ultimately inspire other students in beneficiary schools and others about the importance of reading.
Mário Pacate gave the assurance that the reading contest will take place in the remaining districts in the same manner that this one is following through to the district phase and, and the best students will be awarded prizes to themselves and their respective schools.