In Zambia, literacy and agroecology campaign kicks off

Aiming to teach 2,000 rural and urban workers to read and write in the country's official language, English, the Campaign kicked off in May
Literacy and agro-ecology campaign begins in Zambia. Photo: Samora Machel Brigade

By the Samora Machel Brigade
From the MST website

The Fred M’membe literacy and agroecology campaign, coordinated by the MST Samora Machel Internationalist Brigade and the Socialist Party (SP), began in Zambia in May. Based on the “Read, Speak and Write the Words and the World” method, the campaign is being carried out in three provinces of the country: Lusaka, East and West. The aim is to make rural and urban workers literate in the country’s official language, English.

The importance of the campaign lies in the fact that more than 50% of the Zambian population cannot speak, read or write English. Zambia is a country with more than 72 languages derived from the Bantu migrations that gave rise to the diversity of peoples that exist in the country today. However, literacy in English is necessary for the population to access basic health, education, citizenship and other services and rights.

The emphasis on agroecology is part of the Socialist Party’s effort to promote an improvement in the lives of the poorest people through healthy food and income generation. To this end, they have the support of the MST’s Internationalist Brigade, which, together with the party’s comrades, carries out workshops and training in agroecological practices in conjunction with the literacy classes.

In this first stage, which will last three months, the campaign aims to teach literacy to 2,000 people in the respective regions where it is being developed. Paxcina Mundia Imikendu, local coordinator of the campaign in the western province and resident of a region of the Lozi people, where the Silozi language is spoken, says that the number of illiterates in English in her region is very high and that this initiative will enable 600 people to become literate, divided into 30 on-site classes.

“The campaign has a great acceptance in the region, in the sense that people understand that they will be able to write, read and speak English, as this initiative will reduce the number of illiterates in our region,” says Paxcina. For her, the campaign is also important because as people become literate, they become multipliers of agroecology. In her words, “train one person (in agroecological practices) so they can train other people in the region.”

In the eastern province, in the district of Malambo, whose population belongs to the Cunda people and speaks the language of the same name, local coordinator Emmanuel N’mbanda comments on the importance of agroecology for the local population. According to Emmanuel, there are already agroecology experiments in Malumbo, but the campaign “will help more people get their hands dirty, while raising awareness about not using chemicals that destroy the land.”

Literacy in a time of pandemic

One of the most important issues that arose early in the planning of the campaign was that of protective and sanitary measures to prevent coronavirus infection. Since last year, the Samora Machel Brigade has been working on raising awareness, manufacturing and distributing hygienic material, so-called “hand sanitizer”, and masks to the population.

Before the start of the campaign, all members of the MST Brigade were advised to get vaccinated through the Covax consortium, which has donated Astrazeneca doses to several African countries. The same guidance was conveyed to members of the Socialist Party of Zambia who are directly involved in the campaign.

With the start of the campaign, coronavirus protection kits were distributed along with educational materials. The classes have a limited number of people within the safety parameters set by the country, but especially by the MST and the Socialist Party. The campaign continues apace sharing hope with the Zambian population, but without neglecting health to better serve the people.

Check out the pictures of the Literacy Campaign:

*Edited by Fernanda Alcântara