Photography by Mário Macilau
Many people in Mozambique, especially women, do not have access to education. According to official sources, almost half of the population (48.1 %) is illiterate. If you have a disability, access to education is even more limited. This is due to discrimination and to an education system that is not adapted to your needs.
The Inclusive Adult Education project (IAE) was launched in 2012 to address these challenges. The project offered literacy skills to illiterate and semi-literate people in two provinces of Mozambique, with a special focus on people with disabilities. The project also raised awareness about the educational needs of people with disabilities, and supported a more inclusive literacy and adult education environment. Funds came from the European Union, and the project was implemented by DVV International together with local organisations, the local government education departments and the Association of Blind and Visually-Impaired People of Mozambique (Associaçao dos Cegos e Ambliopes de Moçambique – ACAMO).
When the project ended in 2016, it had reached 2,355 participants (88 % of whom were women). Around 12 % of the participants had physical disabilities (including hearing and vision loss). Many of the participants said that the project not only taught them how to read, write and to some extent do arithmetic, but that it also gave them greater autonomy and self-confidence, and helped them to actively participate in the life of their communities. The project also called the attention of the communities to the fact that people with disabilities have a right to education; parents learnt that they should send their children with disabilities to school and understood that adults with disabilities can also attend literacy centres.
But the end of the project was not the end of the activities. Many participants wanted to keep on learning. In the rural district of Manhiça, in Maputo Province, three former literacy supervisors of the project worked with the communities to start a local development organisation called Development Community Association (ACD – Associaçao de Desenvolvimento Comunitario). Together they managed to obtain the support of the local education department, which agreed to provide materials and pay volunteers for the literacy centres, while ACD members would provide technical support. ACD also managed to keep the health training as well as small-scale farming activities alive, supporting the families to build toilets and produce their own vegetables.
One year after the end of the project, Adult Education and Development asked Mozambican photographer Mário Macilau to visit one of the communities in the Manhiça district. Here, classes are now running up to two times a week, whenever the community agenda allows it and participants are free from other activities.