Educating Children Together (ECT2) In Mozambique (Reading Camps)
Through the Educating Children Together (ECT2) program in Mozambique, Save the Children with partners began hosting reading camps in 2017. We originally planned to establish 150 camps in Muecate and Nacaroa districts, Nampula province. We originally planned to establish 150 camps in Muecate and Nacaroa districts. Quickly, the program gained acceptance among communities and grew in the same year to over 200 camps. This rise came as a direct result of students learning in the camps which was appreciated even more given the widespread absenteeism of teachers in schools.
As we arrived in Namilato village in April 2017 we were amazed by the sheer number of students streaming into the Reading Camp site. As we pulled in, it began to rain, yet students were still arriving and immediately their concern was to protect us from the heavy falling rain. As for the students, they were happy to be at their Reading Camp.
It was fascinating for us, the ECT-2 team, to watch the children, singing, learning in a fun way through games, manipulating objects and listening intently to the story of the day narrated by the camp promoter. I decided ask the promoter, also a father of the community, where he got his motivation and energy for working with the children especially on a day when rain could easily bring down the mood and enthusiasm for learning.
Manuel Massabão shared that he had been a Reading Camp Promoter since February 2017. He is very proud to be part of the transformation that occur in the children of his community and also views their progress as his personal gain. “Before the program began, most of us thought that the task of educating children was only possible through teachers, at schools. Now, after seeing what is happening here, community members are changing their way of thinking. As a country we are happy when we see our children excited to learnto read and write outside of school! Children in the camp can identify letters, form syllables from letters, know the vowels. These are things that before even grade 5 children had difficulty to doing, before the Reading Camps started. The environment we created is characterized by games, play, children manipulating different materials in a fun way. And all of this encourages children to stay at the Reading Camps even longer than in school”.
“On a personal level I have made many gains by being part of the program. Before I did not know how to plan or prioritize, but now I do it all the time in my life. I know that everything we do should start with a plan, including teaching my own children. At home I sit with my children, tell them stories, sing songs and practice with them various things related to their studies.”
In the near distance we could see some parents watching Reading Camp activities and I was interested to understand why they were there. I talked with one father, Damiao Augosto Viagem, a father of 2 children attending camps session.
“At the beginning when the sessions started, my perception was that it was about play. Then when the children began to tell me about the things that they learned in the camp, I changed my mind and I became interested in observing the Reading Camps myself. Gradually I started coming to this place with more frequency to see the activities up close and in person. One of my children, Manucho, is in the first grade. Now he can write his name, identify letters that make up my name, something that didn’t happen, unfortunately, for one of my children who is in grade 5 but did not benefit from the reading camp.”
Before this initiative, children went to school for one period of the day and when returned home to little learning or play. Now, with camps, in addition to learning community members have a sense that their children are learning and that they are safe. With children engaged in play and learning, parents can focus on their daily tasks and work. The Reading Camps are great for reading, for child protection, and for healthy families.