Mozambique has done really well in improving access to basic education. Almost all children now enrol in primary school. The average number of years of education has increased from less than three to more than four. However, the numbers of people who continue in any formal education are and will remain very small. Unless people have access to learning opportunities outside of the classroom, their ‘education’ will be limited. Without knowledge of markets and prices how can farmers determine the wholesale price for their crop? Without understanding their rights, how can people defend their land and resources? Without knowledge of the options and how to assess them, how can people usefully engage in planning or budgeting processes? Without learning and knowledge, people are powerless.
- Nationally, 45% of students do not go beyond 5th grade (10 years old) and this figure is much higher in rural areas
- There is a growing ‘clash’ particularly in rural areas between traditional ‘values’ and norms and more modern attitudes and cultural references influencing younger people;
- There is little knowledge or understanding amongst local people of their rights and entitlements and limited support to enable people to act when rights are infringed;
- Particularly vulnerable groups in society (women, people with disabilities, people living with HIV/AIDS) are poorly served by a mix of traditional ‘culture’, inadequate legal support, and lack of information
Our perspective……and what we’re doing
MICAIA believes that learning must be a continuing process, and our focus is therefore very much on education beyond schools. We also believe that a healthy, prosperous society is one in which people not only understand their rights, but also acknowledge their obligations – to their country, their community and to each other. We want to encourage active citizenship in all its forms: political engagement, social activism, community volunteering. In all this work, it is essential to transform the access and active participation of girls and women, sensitively challenging social or cultural norms such as early marriage that restrict or abuse women or societal norms that deny people with disabilities the opportunity to live a positive life.
Learning for Life: MICAIA’s projects now reach more than 16,000 people. The projects that give us that reach include agricultural development, beekeeping, and forest conservation. MICAIA’s innovation is to integrate Learning for Life in all projects. In the women’s beekeeping project, for instance, we have used the regular meetings of the women to include discussion training and demonstration sessions on a wide range of topics including home economics, the rights of women and children in the face of domestic violence, and the implications of new laws on land and resources.
YouthBank Chimoio: the YouthBank model emerged in Northern Ireland as a way of bringing together young people from different sides of the sectarian divide. The model evolved to include young people managing small grant funds to support the social or economic initiatives of other young people in their community. MICAIA, with funding from DFID (UK), is piloting the YouthBank model in Chimoio. To date we have enabled a core group of young people (the YBC Committee) to make 30 grants. These include small enterprise start-ups such as a carpentry workshop, a horticulture business, chicken-rearing, and outside catering. In all, more than 200 young people are involved in new enterprise activities that could transform their lives. We’ve also made grants to social work, including a campaign led by young people to highlight the scourge of domestic violence to promote the rights of the girl child; and another to promote the rights of the visually impaired.
Community organization: in all of our work in both rural and urban areas MICAIA’s projects include support for developing and strengthening the capacity of community organizations such as Co-operatives and Associations.