Lifelong learning begins with a foundation of literacy. Yet in Mozambique, 40% of adults over 15 cannot read or write, while female literacy trails behind at just 33%.

Illiteracy in Mozambique stems from a number of issues, including teacher absenteeism and limited instructional time, according to a USAID-funded study on school effectiveness. On average, Mozambican schools were limited to 30 days of actual instructional time per 193-day school year in 2010.

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A community volunteer shows the children an alphabet chart. He dubbed himself Titio Alfabetico (Uncle Alphabet) during his training.

Without access to grade-appropriate books, children in Mozambique miss out on not only the opportunity to learn to read, but the joy of interacting with colorful stories that inspire a lifelong love of reading and creating.

A widespread dearth of formal education presents the need to ensure that children don’t slip through the cracks in the system. While formal education in Mozambique offers plenty of challenges, these cracks have sprouted creative, informal solutions to inspire a love of learning in children across the country.

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Mozambican children are singing the Elephant Song, a song that accompanies a version of tag that helps them learn numbers.

Community libraries bring children together to encourage a love of reading. Wherever space is available (like a village elder’s home or an unused classroom), trained Peace Corps volunteers and community members lead local after-school and weekend reading programs. Throughout the program, over 64,000 books and 350 other teaching tools like posters and craft supplies have been provided to community libraries.

Through community libraries, children have access to books that have been contextualized to reflect their life experiences. Not only are reading outcomes improving, but the sense of joy is undeniable in the classroom.

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A Peace Corps volunteer asks the children to read out loud.

Children who attend the community library programs have been shown to outperform their non-intervention counterparts: children in the CLP can identify three to four times more letters and words than their peers.

Community libraries meets the challenges of the formal education system with a consistent, high-quality informal solution, all with a spirit of curiosity and joy. With weekly meetups, children have access to colorful local stories and community role models to inspire them to engage with the texts and each other. With a foundation of literacy, these Mozambican children have the opportunity to become lifelong readers, dreamers, and creators.

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A group of community library program trainees and their students at the end of a training at Teacane Primary School at Nampula, Mozambique.

Community library programs reached 9 provinces of Mozambique and more than 2,500 children across 93 locations.

From 2016 to 2019, World Education provided literacy training, support, and logistics to facilitate the implementation of this project, in addition to monitoring and evaluation services.

The community library program initiative is one of many initiatives to improve literacy in Mozambique. You can help us support more projects that inspire a love of learning by making a donation here.