At what age did you learn to read and write?
I was 27 when I learned to read and write. This was thanks to the Reflect1 circle that was set up in my community Melembe in Palmeiras (Maputo Province, Mozambique).
Why did you not learn as a child?
I grew up in a rural community in Gaza Province where there were no schools nearby. My parents were both farmers and couldn’t afford to send me to study outside the community. So I never had a chance to study as a child.
What was the most difficult thing about learning as an adult?
I didn’t really face any particular difficulties. Maybe the thought of sitting at a desk like a child when I was already an adult made me feel insecure. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to understand the lessons. But with the support of the Reflect facilitator the process was easy.
Why did you want to learn?
I saw other girls of almost the same age as me working at various professions such as teachers or nurses. This made me always want to get ahead in life, which I felt I could do if I studied. I saw that wherever someone goes to look for work, even simple jobs, they always asked for some academic qualification and Curriculum Vitae.
What has it meant for you? How has your life changed?
My life has changed a lot now. With the learning I have acquired through literacy, I have a lot more self-esteem and I am much more respected by my husband’s family – I live in the family house with 4 children. I had an opportunity to train in Reflect and now I am a Reflect trainer myself so people in the community look at me as a kind of role model.
What would you like to say to other adults who cannot read and write?
I try to sensitise illiterate people about the importance of education. I always use my own case as an example to show that we must be determined to strive for what we want in life until one day we get it. These days everyone talks about school and training and qualifications. A future without education does not offer any guarantee of security.
1 / Reflect is an innovative approach to adult learning and social change, which fuses the theories of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire with participatory methodologies. It was developed in the 1990s through pilot projects in Bangladesh, Uganda and El Salvador and is now used by over 500 organisations in over 70 countries worldwide (Ed.).
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