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Education is a top priority for the local communities. One of our first projects was the building of a new primary school In Supinho. In Idugo, where school attendance levels are very low, we joined a nationwide network promoting girl’s education and raising awareness of children’s rights. With the support of Irish Aid in Mozamique, our work aimed at promoting children’s education has been developed and branched out to include both local communities. The success of our work with primary school children has prompted us to expand our focus to include secondary school education and the Foundation is currently sponsoring the secondary schooling of eight young girls. We have also supported literacy classes for adults, primarily women.

Secondary Education for Girls

Since the Zalala Foundation has been supporting girl’s education through the establishment of girls’ after-school clubs where they meet and learn together, there has been a marked increase in both attendance and attainment levels among young girls in the local communities. Girls have gained confidence in their own abilities and have acquired a new vision for their future. But there are no secondary education facilities in Idugo and Supinho. Only those whose parents have the means to pay for them to study elsewhere or have relatives who can provide accommodation have the chance to move into secondary education. Thus, the Zalala Foundation decided to start up a school sponsorship initiative starting with the most successful of the graduates of the Girls’ Empowerment programme. In 2021, eight girls – Vânia, Liliana, Antônia , Belinha, Esquitora, Noémia, Zaurina and Latia – were selected to start up secondary school studies at a very well reputed convent in Quelimane.

Learning Portuguse

The first challenge faced by the girls was to learn to speak Portuguese. Most of them usually converse in their native tongue and had limited dominion of the Portuguese language. Language classes were provided for them one month before the start of the school year, thus providing them with sufficient command of the language. Within a matter of months, most of the girls now speak almost fluently. This language achievement will not only serve them at school, but will also open doors for future opportunities where command of Portuguese is essential.

Learning to be independent

In addition to the educational benefits of their school experience, the girls are also learning to live independently. In the school, they are responsible for doing their own laundry, keeping their room tidy and managing their homework tasks.

Supporting each other

One of the first initatives of the group was to set up a weekly meeting to share and discuss difficulties, challenges and anything else of interest amongst themselves. Early on, several of the girls shared their difficulties in keeping up with maths lessons. This led to an initiative to request extra maths tuition. At these weekly meetings, girls can also also share personal matters and these can be discussed in a supportive and confidential environment.

Ongoing involvement with advocacy initiatives

The girls continue to support the various initiatives, including speaking on live radio debates and participating in the monthly planning and monitoring meetings of the Advisory Forum of the Girl’s Independence Project in Idugo and Supinho.

Successful exam results

At the end of the first year, all the girls sat exams and they all passed and will move up a grade in February 2023. Bearing in mind the enormous challenge each girl faced, moving away from their communities and family to live in the provincial capital, Quelimane, which none of them knew previously and adapting to the rigours and discipline of the school, this is a very significant achievement.

At a meeting arranged by the Zalala Foundation with the girls, their parents and community leaders, they were heartily congratulated and encouraged to continue working hard in the year ahead. Some of the girls cried with emotion as the teachers gave praise and encouragement to each of them in turn. Their mothers were then invited to stand and be photographed with their respective daughters.

Your support is needed

We are urgently seeking donations to enable us to continue supporting these girls through their education. We need to cover the cost of their school fees, which include – tuition, food, accommodation and pocket money. You can either commit to a monthly or annual contribution to their schooling or else a one-off donation. Any support provided will make a big difference. Donate here.