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.
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.
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. To date, 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.
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.
As of October 2018, community library programs are active in 9 provinces of Mozambique, reaching more than 2,500 children across 93 locations.
Since 2016, World Education has 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 ongoing initiatives to improve literacy in Mozambique. You can help us support more projects that inspire a love of learning by making a donation here.