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Five-year-old Elton from a small rural village in Mozambique is a clever boy who loves going to school. The challenges children like Elton overcome are staggering. Nearly half of adults in Mozambique are illiterate. Child mortality rates are high and poverty is crushing. But with support from his mother and dedicated Save the Children volunteers, Elton is learning what he needs to read and succeed.
His mother Natercia beams with pride as she talks about a day in the life of Elton. She says, “When he comes home, he is excited to tell me what he learned that day. He sings the songs they sang at school. He also likes being clean and washes his hands without being asked.”
Elton is one of many children in the village of Muzingane who have greatly benefitted from a pre-school supported by Save the Children since 2008, as part of its early childhood development program. In this remote community, children learn not only reading and writing, but also basic hygiene practices such as washing hands before eating and after going to the bathroom.
Rosita, a volunteer teacher at the preschool, says, “Holding a pencil and writing will help them build skills for school success while good hygiene keeps them clean and healthy.” Rosita, who works with five other volunteers at the three-classroom center, describes the program as a success, saying that she “has observed significant changes in children since the preschool was established.”
To reinforce this program, Rosita and the other volunteers engage the parents and encourage them to be actively involved in their children’s learning experiences. One of the ways they do this is by organizing parent discussion groups where they share important messages and exchange ideas on nutrition, hygiene, positive discipline and early learning. Parents continue to attend these meetings even after their children have graduated from preschool, sharing with each other their children’s successes and challenges at primary school.
For Rosita, the joy of teaching 3-5 year-olds and getting such positive feedback on how they later on excel in primary school has been a great source of motivation for her and her fellow teachers.
Meanwhile, Elton says he is excited to take the next big step – first grade, next year. His mother, however, is looking farther - much farther. Her wish is to see her son attend university one day. Natercia, who completed just four years of school, sees on the horizon, her son, Elton, as a young man with a degree in accounting.
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