by Simonetta Sandri - EniDay
The province of Cabo Delgado in Mozambique, with its crystal clear waters and lush greenery, has significant issues in terms of access to education, particularly in the city of Pemba, where the quality of teaching and education infrastructure is among the major challenges. Within this context, being aware of the situation, Eni turned its attention to education, in conjunction with the Provincial Department for Education, Pemba Municipality, and representatives of the Paquitequete community, including community and religious leaders.
The Paquitequete school project was launched to offer educational materials and facilities to disadvantaged children: the neighbourhood is the oldest in the city of Pemba, a fishing centre and, at the same time, the most run down. Here, school attendance is poor, and the lack of an actual centre as a uniting factor prevents real and effective progress.
The first stage of the project related to infrastructure with the construction of a brand new school covering the entire course of primary studies, from 1st to 7th grade: 7 classrooms, an administration block, a library, a recreational-sports area, a garden, toilet facilities for students and teachers, plumbing and electricity. With 2,000 direct beneficiaries (the students, with close to 60% girls), 13,000 indirect beneficiaries (the entire neighbourhood community), 40 teachers, a commitment of more than one million euros, and a handover to the Pemba municipal authority in December 2014.
The second phase of the project consisted in an important programme to support the teaching capabilities in conjunction with AVSI: the supply of educational materials and tools and the development of extra-curricular activities such as sport, gardening, poetry and theatre. Fun, games and culture as tools.
The aspect of teachers required special attention. It was difficult to retain teaching staff, above all due to the school organization itself: lessons over several shifts and a large influx of students, but without any control over entry. There was a risk of failing to provide “interesting” material if sufficient human resources were not available. Since it is human feelings, which are always the most important. Therefore, the aspect of optimization could only be that of working with a group of people selected from outside the school, answering to Eni for the project, identified by intermediate bodies based in the city and therefore with knowledge of the school. The involvement of local authorities and regional associations, the NGO Khandhelo first and foremost, was to be essential for this selection. The four selected “teachers of teachers”, followed by a coordinator and integrated into the teaching staff, would soon initiate “Aprendemos brincando”, that is to say, learning through playing, which is so important to children, stimulating the ability to learn through play. With 8 classes per phase (grades 1-2) of around 500 students and 8 teachers (a total of approx. 1000 pupils beneficiaries). An educational programme, materials and tools to help children discover beauty and encourage reflection on similar cultures and environments between their own local situation and the world, guiding them, in the classroom, with a globe. In order to discover, learn, dream and travel with the mind.
The role of the facilitators, who treaded lightly into the environment while introducing different ways of working, was found to be very important, including during the holiday period and in breaks, when they continued to provide activities for and with the children.