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CIES 2019 and Bilingual Early Grade Reading in Mozambique


Humana People to People will be represented by its member, Planet Aid Inc, at the Comparative International Education Society (CIES) conference to be held in San Francisco, California USA from 14th to 18th of April 2019. Education for sustainability is the focus of this year’s CIES conference.

CIES presents itself as seeking to contribute to an understanding of education through encouragement and promotion of comparative education related areas of enquiry and interest. Its members explore educational issues related to schools, students, teachers, and administrators; from early childhood and primary school to secondary and higher education, as well as non-formal education and lifelong learning.

During the five day CIES conference, Planet Aid will promote Food for Knowledge’s work toward achieving programme sustainability by emphasizing its holistic approach—integrating educational and nutritional development interventions—and its success in creating an effective partnership with the Government of Mozambique. Food for Knowledge team members will participate in two panels at CIES 2019 conference, discussing results of an early grade reading programme in Mozambique and the programme as a whole!


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The programme is in its third year of introducing a bold approach aimed at improving literacy among primary school children. The programme is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program.

Planet Aid’s Food for Knowledge (FFK) programme is improving the academic performance and nutritional status of young Mozambicans. This comprehensive program is implemented by Planet Aid’s local partner, ADPP Mozambique, along with Cambridge Education and WISHH.

Young children in Mozambique speak one of several local languages when they enter school, but they are frequently taught from the beginning to read in Portuguese, the official national language. This creates an obstacle in their acquisition of early reading skills.

To address literacy challenges in the nation, FFK has developed a flagship early-grade reading programme that is helping children begin reading in the local languages of Changana and Rhonga. Teachers receive training and support from reading coaches, trained by the programme. The bilingual early grade reading programme, developed in partnership with the Government of Mozambique, helps to propel the national focus on local language education and build sustainability through collaboration.

The programme teaches children to “crack the code” of the written word by learning to read in their mother tongue. This helps to accelerate learning and makes it easier for children to later learn to read in Portuguese.

“Our main focus is to have the largest number of children finishing third grade who know how to read and write,” said Olivia Machel, literacy component manager for Food for Knowledge.




“A child learns better in the language they speak at home, which is why we decided to move towards bilingual teaching beginning with languages spoken locally,” explained Machel.

In addition to having developed these materials, FFK is also training teachers in student-centered and evidence-based early grade reading methodologies.

“The teachers are being trained in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension,” said Machel. Teachers who have trained and have begun using the materials have observed greater response from their students.

“I see great interaction in the classroom with the students. This is the result of the relaxation they feel because they can communicate in a language that they know,” explained Herminia, a teacher who has been using the reading materials at Chicoachana Primary School.

The early grade reading programme represents a sustainable and effective enhancement to the local curriculum, helping to build a solid foundation for greater literacy. Together with its other components, Food for Knowledge is creating the momentum for long-term sustainability of the programme and the development of the nation.

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