Teachers in Mozambique Shape Futures through Bilingual Education

May 9th, 2024 | Stories


Teachers change lives through their commitment to student growth and achievement. In the Nampula province of Mozambique, two primary school teachers shine as examples of the transformative power of education.

Olinda Xavier and Lito Artur are dedicated teachers who have embraced bilingual instruction to better connect with their students and community members and accelerate learning. In Mozambique, many students are not meeting required reading and writing levels, according to ministry of education data. This is partly because classes are taught in Portuguese rather than the local languages many people in rural areas speak. Bilingual education can improve education quality, foster participation, and build student confidence.

Olinda, an enthusiastic trailblazer

To promote a more inclusive and dynamic education for her students, Olinda began challenging established pedagogies. “I remember that at first I entered the room using standard Emakhua, which is my mother tongue, but the children spoke Emakhua with local characteristics. So I decided to adapt to their way of speaking. They felt as if they were with a mother figure and we interacted well,” she said.

With support from the USAID SABER project, Olinda’s school began bilingual education . “The school director summoned us to inform us that we would have this modality. I said thank God…” she recalled.

Using the methodologies she learned during USAID SABER teacher trainings, Olinda guides her students on a journey of discovery and learning . “In February we had a follow-up visit from the school director who visited our classrooms and then met with all the teachers, He said ‘it seems to me that the students in the first class are those in the fourth class in this school of ours.’ We asked, ‘why, director’? He said that those boys write very well. I felt proud knowing that it was working,” she shared.

Olinda works hard every day for her students, planning each week’s classes on weekends. In her interactions with students, she embraces linguistic and cultural diversity. “Those children challenge me, and I like that because that way I understand that they are learning,” she said.

Olinda also trains other teachers to use bilingual education strategies in the classroom.

People who doubt may do so because they are not on the ground working with children. For us, this is a marvel. Bilingual teaching methodologies make our work very simple,” Olinda added.

Lito, an inspirational leader

Lito’s pedagogical practices transformed when he began adopting innovative bilingual education methodologies he learned from training through the USAID SABER project. With his new knowledge, Lito flourished as a model for bilingual teaching. “I dedicated myself to following up on what I learned in the training. Since the program was very strict with visits, the technicians noticed my work and verified that it had good results,” he said.

Lito’s expertise and passion for teaching have earned him respect and admiration in his community. His infectious enthusiasm and ability to share knowledge have made him a true leader among his colleagues, inspiring others to follow his example and embrace bilingual education. “There are many bilingual teachers in the district and almost all of them passed through my hands,” he said.

Because of his leadership, USAID SABER invited Lito to help produce learning materials and assessments in Emakhua “For me, this was the phase in which I felt it was worth committing myself and knowing the principles of bilingual teaching, as well as the Emakhua language,” he said.

When district services want to present something in Emakhua, they come to me for review. When I entered the program, I didn’t have these language skills, but today I know it well,” he added.

In every class, Lito and Olinda reinforce the message that bilingual education is a powerful tool to unlock students’ potential. The impact of these teachers transcends the school walls, as their students move through their education and into the world with a deeper connection to learning. This Teacher’s Week, we celebrate the exceptional educators and trainers who go above and beyond to deliver quality education and build more promising futures for the next generations of students.

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