The combined pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic and now, staggering inflation and the rising cost of living, have wreaked havoc on schools, students, and families the world over. Although we’ve all felt the impacts, those living in developing countries have perhaps felt it most acutely.
Ottawa-based international development organization CODE has been working in Mozambique for more than two decades to enhance education and improve children’s literacy. Together with their local partner Associação Progresso and the Mozambique Ministry of Education and Human Development, they provide literacy programing, deliver teacher training and supports, and supply culturally relevant children’s books and learning materials to schools and libraries. But the pandemic and subsequent economic situation have worsened poverty and eroded hard won gains in the East African country. Teachers and students are struggling, and more and more parents have been forced to choose between investing in education or the immediate returns of having their child join the workforce or help on the family farm.
In 2021, 61 under-resourced schools in Mozambique reached out to Associação Progresso and CODE for extra help, resulting in the launch of a new campaign to support the urgent request for school supplies, sanitation supplies and learning materials. The Gay Lea Foundation responded.
Photo credit: Mbuto Mchili, 2022
“The Gay Lea Foundation’s generous contribution of $15,750 provided direct and tangible support to five severely under-resourced primary schools in Mozambique, allowing us to supply exactly what they asked for – books, school supplies, sanitation supplies and learning materials,” says Janet Phillips, Manager of Fund Development for CODE. “The gift will go a long way toward alleviating the stress on these schools, families and children, and accelerate progress toward improved literacy and learning outcomes.”
In all, the organization raised an incredible $212,919 for what they called the “Supporting BETTER Schools” initiative, which allowed them to distribute much-needed items to all 61 primary schools and four teachers’ colleges in four different districts of Mozambique.
To support learning and ease the financial burden on families, each of the primary schools received 400 notebooks, 500 pencils, 50 rulers, 50 erasers, and five sets of teaching aids specially designed to teach reading and writing in Portuguese (the national language). To turn otherwise empty walls into learning spaces, each school was also given 30 boxes of chalk, two paint brushes and two cans of blackboard paint. All of the items were purchased in the regions in which they were distributed to reduce transport costs and support the local economies.
Each of the schools and four colleges were also provided with 54 copies of nine different high quality, culturally relevant supplementary reading books printed in Mozambique.
“We know that without good books to read, children will struggle to learn to read and succeed in school,” says Phillips. “That’s why the provision of books is part of almost every CODE project – it’s at the core of what we do and who we are.”
Lastly, each school received 100 re-usable fabric masks, 72 large bars of soap, two thermometers, two mops, two brooms, two litres of disinfectant, rubber gloves and 10 buckets with taps that serve as hand-washing stations.
“In these 61 schools, there are hundreds of teachers and thousands of students striving to do their best under challenging conditions,” says Phillips. “Thank you, Gay Lea Foundation, for investing in safe, positive learning spaces not only for the children who attend there but for the teachers in training who come to prepare for their own careers as effective teachers.”
TEACHERS SHARE THEIR APPRECIATION
“For the students, the materials (books) we received promote a lot of motivation, as they are curious to see the images and read the texts since they portray contexts that have to do with their day-to- day lives, that is, the stories fit into children’s lives.”
– Machava, 7 de Abril Primary School (Manhiça District)
“During the past two years we had several challenges, but the support provided by the BETTER Project made it easier to overcome them as we received various materials for teaching and learning and also materials that help to keep personal and collective hygiene of the school.”
– Minerva, Cuanine Primary School (Manhiça District)
CODE is a Canadian charity dedicated to promoting every child’s right to read. Over the past 60 years, their programs have reached over 10 million children in many of Africa’s most impoverished communities, helping to enable student learning by increasing their access to qualified educators and locally relevant, high quality learning materials. CODE is honoured to have been named one of Canada’s Top 25 Charities by the Financial Post; received UNESCO’s International Literacy Prize; and, to be recognized as a 4-star charity by Charity Intelligence. Learn more at https://code.ngo/.