History classes in Mozambique


Comment to the understanding of the following article

Inspired by a recent expert discussion with a scientist from the University of Giessen on an aspect of the topic “Education and upbringing in the People’s Republic of Mozambique”, a paper I wrote for a specialist journal came into the focus of our discussion.

This article was written in 1986 and provides an overview of the development of education in Mozambique, taking into account the historical background. In order to understand the presentation it should be said that at that time Marxism-Leninism had to be named as the basis of every scientific presentation and that dialectical and historical materialism had to be confirmed in relation to history. Every author had to do enough for this form.

In the objectives of Mozambique’s educational system, Frelimo insisted on the observance of the rules laid down by the Eastern supporting countries and used them in its own sense. Thus, the educational and educational goals stated in the Sistema Nacional de Educação (SNE) under the heading “Education of Homem Novo”, the socialist personalities of Mozambique, are mostly those that met the real needs of a society liberated from colonialism, expressing their longing for a life liberated from slavery, tribalism, hunger, disease and obscurantism.

In Samora Machel’s speeches in particular, the necessity of forming a nation from the various peoples and tribes of the country played a central role. In the process, terms such as homeland, patriotism and fatherland were inevitably used.

In our valuations we occasionally arrived euphorically optimistically at perspective misjudgements (see “On the present situation”), which in this case were already taken ad absurdum in 1987 and in the following years by social reality. As a result of the decline of the socialist world system, the undeclared war waged by South Africa against the young independent Mozambique, the destructive rage of the RENAMO gangs and the economic weakness of the country, the SNE with its objectives had no chance of realization. It disappeared with the political change in Mozambique.

A new education and training system is in the making and is developing on fluctuating ground.

What remains is the memory of the enormous achievement of FRELIMO, which, based on the ideas of Mondlane, together with the support of solidarity forces, created an educational system that would have guaranteed the Mozambicans spiritual liberation from colonialism and the connection to the free modern world.

The article summarizes the focal points and objectives of this concept in its foundations and using the example of the newly conceived history lesson and evaluates them from the perspective of 1986.

Rainer Grajek, 2 December 2013


FRELIMOFrente de Libertação de Moçambique: Mozambican Liberation Front, founded in 1962
FrelimoChanged spelling after the transformation of the Liberation Front into an avant-garde party in 1977 (III Congress)

History classes in Mozambique

When the then President of the People’s Republic of Mozambique stated in 1981, “The national education system is revolutionary and popular in its principles, in its aims and in the process of its materialization”. /When the country was in its sixth year of political independence, Frelimo could look back on nineteen years of experience in the struggle for a true primary school in Mozambique. Since its foundation, FRELIMO has considered the struggle for education for all children of the people as an inseparable part of the struggle against the Portuguese colonial system. Samora Machel’s statement illustrates the enormous upswing that has taken place in the country in a historically short period of time in the field of popular education. What had been achieved was difficult for the Mozambican people, because it was achieved in the struggle against the internal counterrevolution, under the conditions of the undeclared war which the apartheid regime of South Africa waged against its neighbour and under the burden of the colonial legacy.

1. The Colonial Heritage

The founder and first president of FRELIMO, Eduardo Mondlane, describes the education system that existed in Mozambique before independence:

“There are two categories in the school system of the Portuguese territories: 1. the schools of the Roman Catholic missions, whose main function is to provide elementary education to Africans; 2. the official school system, better equipped, intended for whites, Asians and assimilated people (assimilados: a privileged black minority; d. V.). /2/ Schools for Africans were organized according to a three-phase system. The initial education (Ensino rudimentar; after 1956 also called Ensino de adaptação) was aimed at “gradually leading the native from a wild life to a civilized life”. 3/3/ This phase included kindergarten, first and second grade.

Eduardo Mondlane

The primary ensino phase was reserved for students who had completed the ensino de adaptação. The schools for whites, assimilated, etc. included the ensino primário up to the fifth grade, which was a prerequisite for attending the lyceum. The successful completion of the three cycles in the lyceums (seven years) was the basis for studying at a Portuguese university.

The function of the Portuguese educational system in the colonies can be seen from a statement by Mondlane:

“The three educational phases – rudimentar, primário and secundário (in the lyceums; d. V.) – are practically organised in such a way that they put a number of obstacles in the way of the African child who is trying to achieve higher education. /4/

Eduardo Mondlane

Most Mozambican children were excluded from school. An excessive examination procedure made the transition from primary to secondary school difficult for the black pupils. A look at the textbooks from that period shows that Portuguese and Portuguese history were the main subjects taught. The other hours were filled with religion, manual work and agricultural activity. Mozambique’s history was completely ignored.

The system of teacher training was as underdeveloped as that of general education. Since most Mozambicans were denied access to school education, the illiteracy rate was still 95 to 98 percent in the 1960s.

In 1955 Mozambique had 2041 escolas rudimentares with 242 412 pupils. Of these schools, 2000 were run by Catholic missions, 27 by Protestant missions, 12 by government and 2 by special status.

In 1959 392 796 children attended the ensino de adaptação, but only 6982 of them made the transition to primary school (escola primária). /5/

Even if the number of schools and pupils changed positively in the following years due to the increase in the white population in Mozambique, education remained a privilege of the colonial power and racial barriers continued to exist.

“With a population of about eight million and two hundred thousand inhabitants in 1970, there were only slightly more than fifty thousand Mozambicans with primary education, which is less than 1 percent. /6/

As late as 1974, 93 percent of the population over seven years of age could not read or write. The number of black students at the University of Lourenço Marques (today: Maputo) shows who benefited from the education. Of the 3800 enrolled, only 40 were black.

In general, it should be noted that the colonial power Portugal took a long time to introduce a school system in Mozambique. Only after more than three hundred years since the beginning of the colonization (on 1o January 1498 Vasco da Gama, the first Portuguese, set foot on the territory of today’s Mozambique) the first primary school was founded in 1799 on the Ilha de Moçambique (the administrative centre at that time). The children of the later capital Lourenço Marques even had to wait until 1907 before they were allowed to enter the first primary school. The creation of the first lyceum took even longer. The Liceu Nacional de Lourenço Marques was founded in 1919. In the founding year, 44 pupils attended it, whose education was in the hands of 11 teachers. By 1928, the number of students in this institution had risen to 123, and the number of teachers to 14.

In 1962, the growing demand for teachers was met with the establishment of the first teacher training institute (Escola de Magistério Primário) in Lourenço Marques. At the end of the colonial era, in 1975, Mozambique had 12 institutes for the training of primary school teachers. When Frelimo took power, there was a lack of a large number of well-trained cadres; it was aware of this fact.

“When we took up arms to overthrow the old order, we felt the need to create a new society, strong, healthy, prosperous, in which people are free from all exploitation and work together for common progress. /7/

2. Frelimo’s education policy

The III FRELIMO Congress, held in 1977, analysed the evolution of the Liberation Front since its foundation in 1962, highlighting as a particular aspect characteristic of the development of FRELIMO the fact that, from 1968 to the present day, it has been “marked by the constant struggle between two lines”. “This struggle began before the Second Congress … The historical resistance of our people against foreign domination begins with the first colonial attempts of conquest and domination of the sovereign states that existed in our fatherland. The patriotic line of FRELIMO is rooted in the tradition of centuries of resistance from which the patriotic spirit of our people originates”. /8/

With the assassination of Eduardo Chivambo Mondlene in 1969, the reaction tried to decide the struggle of the two political directions in FRELIMO in favour of the reactionary wing led by Uria Simango. In this aggravated situation, the Central Committee of FRELIMO met at the political-military preparatory centre of Nachingwea for its historic IIIrd session.

The progressive forces asserted themselves, and the measures of the reorganization of the liberation front also included the removal of reactionary forces from the leadership. Some of the outcasts, such as Lázaro Nkavandame, openly went over to the side of the colonial masters.
The struggle of both lines was also reflected in the sector of education. This resulted first of all from the simple fact that to lead the liberation struggle, which began in its armed form in 1964, it was necessary to raise the political, scientific and professional level of the cadres of the fighters and the masses. This consideration led to the creation of primary schools in the early years and the establishment of the Instituto Moçambicano as a secondary school in Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania). “With the creation of schools, the question arose as to the type of teaching, the type of education for the formation of pupils. /Representatives of the reactionary line undermined the objectives of the progressive wing, whose concept was to make the school accessible to all.

Supported by the Portuguese secret police PIDE, Padre Mateus Pinho Gwengere sabotaged the work of the Instituto Moçambicano and outweighed the students against FRELIMO. However, since these and other actions were without the expected success, the reaction used the means of murder to prevent revolutionary development in the field of popular education. Their victims were those forces which defended the revolutionary concept. On May 9, 1968, Mateus Sansão Muthemba, a member of the FRELIMO Central Committee, was killed. The idea could not be killed.

In September 1970, the Second Conference of the Department of Education and Culture launched initiatives for the continuation of the process of shaping the content of the new educational concept. The objectives in the fields of education and culture were given a clearer definition. The role of the teacher and the tasks of the pupils were defined more precisely. The study of the methods of dialectical materialism and the recognition of the role of the practice of class struggle came into the focus of educational policy. The interrelation between production and teaching received due attention.
“The results of the Second Conference of the DEC (Departamento de Educação e Cultura; d. V,) materialized in the opening of numerous teaching centers in the liberated zones, which at the end of the war had already been attended by about thirty thousand students. Hundreds of teachers were trained and educated, increasing their political, professional and scientific knowledge. Literacy campaigns began in the liberated zones and military centres.

More than one hundred young people attended technical colleges and universities in socialist countries. FRELIMO can proudly state that, despite military difficulties, despite shortages in the liberated zones, it has trained more Mozambicans’ than the colonialists in five hundred years”. /10/

In March 1977, Samora Machel spoke to school officials, teachers and pupils, explaining the difficult situation facing FRELIMO when it had to create a fundamentally new school system in the liberated zones. The problems that arose were not only material, but above all ideological and political.

“In these zones there were no structures of education of the classical type. There were no schools, there were no teachers. Here there was only traditional education, maintained and nurtured by the structures of feudal society. It was now necessary to organize an educational system that would serve the interests of the further struggle. Various questions arose before us: What type of education for whom? Education in whose services? What does it mean to go to school? These questions gave rise to two opposing attitudes. The revolutionary attitude defended the creation of an educational system in the service of the great masses, a system that freed man from the negative traces of tradition and colonial influences. These traces are tough. These traces are already chronic, embedded in the mentality of the people. These traces are in our heads, indestructible bulwarks, because we have lived oppressed for many years without knowing another type of culture, another way of education, another way of life. These traces are more resistant than cannons. That is why today we must fight against the traces.” /11/ So the next task was derived from the analysis of the situation.

Consequently, the III FRELIMO Congress, at which the transformation of the liberation front into a Marxist-Leninist party was carried out, decided on a programme that still today represents the basis for all development in the field of popular education. In the field of education, it was stressed that it was necessary to work constantly on increasing the professional and scientific knowledge of labourers and to give them access to higher educational institutions. “By conveying the scientific worldview of the proletariat, education shall serve to give all Mozambicans a scientific and materialistic worldview”. /12/

Emphasis was placed on the need to train qualified educators. The aim of all educational efforts in Mozambique is to educate a person who is able to cope with the demands of the new socialist society. All newly created and still to be designed programmes are subordinated to this goal, the formation of the HOMEM NOVO – the New Man.

What should Homem Novo look like?

“The New Man is a man who has freed himself from the superstition and mysticism of the traditional feudal society; he is a man who has freed himself from the bourgeois way of thinking which was imposed on our country … The New Man is a man with a collective consciousness, a man who is engaged in the struggle for the values of the new society, a man who is capable of appropriating science and using it in the service of the people … Education is one of the fundamental instruments in the struggle to build the political, ideological and material foundations of socialist society.“ /13/

Samora Machel

3. Education and history teaching until 1981

In a dialogue /14/ between President Samora Machel and teachers and students of a vocational school in Maputo’s satellite city Matola, the head of state retrospectively defined education in Mozambique as a form of struggle against hunger, nudity, lack of housing, non-existent transportation, roads, bridges, dams and irrigation systems. The task of education is to contribute to the formation of the Mozambican nation. This includes training agronomists, veterinarians, engineers for waterworks and construction, architects and advocates in order to build the new social order. The greatest task of man since the beginning of his existence has been to struggle to expand his knowledge.

How has history taught so far reflected these aspects? In order to be able to classify the contents of the lessons correctly, the reader must know that it is still not possible to introduce compulsory education in the country and that up to now only a certain part of the children of the people have been able to attend school. The majority of pupils attended the four-class primary school. Secondary educational institutions accepted pupils up to the eleventh grade. Since, especially in primary school, school success in the first few years was less than 5o percent, the alarming fact was that out of one hundred children enrolled, about twelve left the fourth grade. One of the reasons for this was the Portuguese examination system, which was retained in its basic principles.

In order to impart a minimum of historical knowledge to the pupils, history lessons were given from grade 3 onwards. The content was limited to Mozambican history. As a rule, teaching materials were (and are) not available for teaching history. Outside in the savannah, a shady place under a tree replaces the classroom. After all, in 1981 about 2,000,000 teachers taught in about 5,700 primary schools. It should be added that not all of these schools reached the fourth grade and a considerable proportion of the teachers did not have any pedagogical training. Another fact that makes teaching and learning difficult at first is that Portuguese is taught; this is a foreign language for pupils and teachers, as most of them speak one of the Bantu languages used in Mozambique or their dialects.

The history curriculum for the third grade was structured in this way:

I.general objectives
1.1political objectives
1.2scientific objectives
II.3rd Class Goals
III.subject overview
1.  period:number of hours
1. About the region in which the pupil lives
1.1 Production – collective work2
1.2 Transformation of nature2
2. The life of the Mozambican people before colonial rule 2
3. Portuguese colonialism and the exploitation of Mozambique2
4. Class test about the previous subject1
4.1 Return and correction of the class test1
10 hours
2. period:
1. Consequences of colonialism 3
2. The revolt of the people 2
3. The actions of FRELIMO 3
4. Class test about the previous subject 1
4.1 Return and correction of the class test 1
10 hours
3.  period:
1. The Lusaka Agreement and the end of the armed struggle 2
2. National independence 1
2.1 Political aspects1
2.2 Economic aspects1
3. The formation of a new society 3
4. Class test about the previous subject 1
4.1 Return and correction of the class test 1
10 hours

In the years up to 1981 there were hardly any teaching aids available to the teachers. The teachers met in the school on Saturdays and prepared together and worked out help texts (textos de apoio), as far as they were not published by the Ministry of Education. These texts were limited to historical accounts and rarely contained some methodological references.

In order to help teachers plan and carry out their teaching, the information cited in the curricula was followed by sections entitled “Didactic and Pedagogical Orientations”. They gave recommendations on content and methods for the respective “period”. However, the information on the substances to be imparted was usually very brief. This happened most concretely in the curriculum of the third class for the fight of FRELIMO. The curriculum contains the following information on the 3rd period, section “Didactic and pedagogical orientations”:

“Lusaka Agreement and End of Armed Combat.” “The teacher must show the role of the people’s struggle in achieving independence. The different forms of the popular struggle, to emphasize is the fight led by FRELIMO. The teacher should refer to the 25th April 1974, the day of the fall of the colonial fascist regime in Portugal; he should show that the 25th April 1974 was a direct consequence of the liberation struggles of the peoples exploited by Portuguese colonialism in Africa (Angola, Guinea Bissau and Mozambique – show on the map).

In the following the Treaty of Lusaka and its meaning will be discussed: The Portuguese government had to recognise FRELIMO as the legitimate representative of the Mozambican people, the only leader to independence. The teacher should also stress the fact that independence was conquered in struggle and that the Lusaka Treaty was made possible thanks to the struggle of the Mozambican people. He should point out that Portuguese colonialism would not have entered without struggle. The teacher could read a passage from the treaty and explain its meaning to the students. He can show some pictures or excerpts from magazines or newspapers on the subject, invite the students to look and have simple questions answered.

For example, he should work in this way:

  • Locate Lusaka on the map of Africa.
  • Show where Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia are and ask the students to make a map sketch in the booklet.
  • The pupils note that the coup d’état in Portugal took place on 25 April 1974 and the Lusaka Agreement on 7 September of the same year.
  • The students should understand that the agreement and independence were achieved through the struggle of the Mozambican people under the leadership of FRELIMO.
  • Organise discussions in groups on this subject.” /15/

These references are followed by bibliographic information in the curriculum. Among them were references to books that were no longer available on the market at that time (e.g. Mondlane’s “Battle for Mozambique”). Missing maps of Africa and Mozambique as well as the constant lack of booklets and writing material made some curriculum requirements illusory. In lessons attended by the author, it was noticeable that the lack of methodological knowledge limited the efforts of teachers teaching history.

The third class curriculum concludes with five historical dates, to which, however, there is no indication as to how to proceed with them.

These data are:

  • 25 June 1962 – Foundation of FRELIMO
  • 25 September 1964 – Beginning of the armed struggle
  • 7 September 1974 – End of the armed struggle and Lusaka Agreement
  • 2 June 1975 – National Independence
  • 24 July 1975 – Nationalizations

The fourth grade curriculum is structured according to the same scheme. It is based on the knowledge acquired in class 3, some of which is treated again, and thus expands the students’ historical field of vision in the form of concentric circles. The number of lessons was doubled compared to the third class. For comparison, only the contents of the three teaching periods in the fourth grade are mentioned here:

 1. period:number of hours
1. Verification of the knowledge of the subjects of the 3rd class 2
2. The origin of the Mozambican people 1
3. The Monomotapa Empire 2
3.1 Economic, social and political organization2
3.2 Trade with the Arabs1
3.3 The decline of the Mononotapa empire2
4. The Portuguese presence in Mozambique1
4.1 The battle between Portuguese and Arabs for supremacy2
5. Trading branches and markets1
6. The Portuguese Colonial Administration2
7. The time of prazos and the trade of prazeiros2
8. Class test about the previous subject 1
8.1 Return and correction of the class test 1
20 hours
2. period
1. The Gaza Empire2
2. The resistance in the region of Maputo2
3. The battles at Magul, Coolela and Chaimite2
4. The Resistance of Maguiguana2
5. The fights at Maputo2
6. Resistance struggles in the North3
7. The Monopoly Companies (Companhias Monopolistas)3
8. The exploitation system of the monopoly companies2
9. class test (written), including the substance of the 1st period1
9.1 Return and correction of the class test 1
20 hours
3. period
1. The creation of FRELIMO, its support by the people and the activities of this organization2
2. The Lusaka Agreement and the cessation of firing2
3. Repeat lesson1
4. The formation of the transitional government2
5. Mozambique’s independence3
6. The new Mozambican society3
7. Class test over the entire subject1
8. Return and correction of the class test 1
9. Work in groups (preparation of worksheets)5
20 hours

With this curriculum, an attempt was made to give the fourth grade school leaver an overview of the history of his country from the beginnings (Bantu immigration) to the achievement of independence. The struggle of the Mozambican people from 1962 to 1975 was particularly appreciated because it covered the period of time during which the struggle against the Portuguese colonial system took place under the leadership of FRELIMO. The emphasis of this section was mainly from the point of view of the impact of history teaching on the development of the patriotic consciousness of the pupils. At the same time, in view of centuries of tribalist colonial politics, a contribution should be made to the initiation and deepening of the national consciousness.

The teaching programmes drawn up in 1977 for the fifth to ninth grades remained valid until the introduction of the new education system in 1983. Since this system is being introduced gradually, the curricula for grades 7 to 9 still have a relatively long period of validity. Because they were introduced in school practice at the time without any significant practical testing, they contained a large amount of material ballast, which (together with other conditions such as teacher shortages, non-existent textbooks and other teaching materials) meant that they were not entirely feasible. In 1986, therefore, the curricula for grades 7 to 9 underwent a thorough revision. Now they are more practicable.

From Class 5 onwards, the curricula went beyond national history. In Class 5, for example, aspects of Incarnation, the history of Ancient Egypt, Meroes and the Nok people were dealt with. The focus of international history in Class 6 was on the formation of Islam and its influence in North Africa. In addition, the history of the first West African states (Ghana, Mali, Songhai) was added, as well as that of the states of East and South Africa.

The 7th class dealt with the Roman Empire, the feudal mode of production, industrial production and European colonial politics.

The formation of the capitalist social order and the first class struggles of the proletariat are the subject of class 8, along with the French bourgeois revolution of 1789, the emergence of scientific socialism, the Paris Commune and the “Second European Expansion.

The history lessons of the 9th grade included the following subjects: The 1st and 2nd World Wars, the liberation struggles in Asia, Latin America and Africa, the neo-colonialist policies of imperialist states and concluded with the “fundamental contradictions in today’s world”.

The Great Socialist October Revolution is included with 6 hours in the 12-hour complex “The First World War: Inter-imperialist Contrasts”.

What help was available to teachers and students? In view of the lack of teaching aids, teachers were often only dependent on the existing textbooks as the basis for their lessons. Many of the untrained teachers in primary and secondary schools were often only a little ahead of their pupils in terms of knowledge. The situation was aggravated by the fact that the state was unable to raise the funds to reprint the textbooks.

So it was and is not uncommon that – especially in rural areas – no or only a few textbooks are available in a class. Some of these used textbooks were booklets published by FRELIMO, but which were not intended exclusively for use in a particular class level.

All in all:

TitleSizeyear of publicationgrade level
History of Mozambique60 p.1978 (1)no special assignment
History of FRELIMO30 p.1981 (1)no special assignment
History of Africa60 p.1978 (1)no special assignment
History. Africa111 p.19785th and 6th grade
Ancient Egypt16 p.19815th grade
History73 p.19827th grade
History of Mozambique, Volume 1156 p.1982for students of the university
History of Mozambique, Volume 2336 p.1983for students of the university
History 75 p.198111th grade
History 198110th grade

(1) Publisher was the Department of Ideological Work of Frelimo

Apart from the fact that some of the textbooks contained only parts of the material to be taught according to the curriculum and others (which had been developed for use at university but served as a source of knowledge for primary and secondary teachers) overtaxed the teachers, there were no textbooks at all for the 3rd, 4th, 8th and 9th grade learners. Furthermore, the content of the student textbook “História de Moçambique”, Volume 1, has simply been adopted and reprinted as an 11th grade textbook.

4. The new education system

The conception and introduction of the Sistema Nacional de Educação (SNE) represents the most significant revolutionary change in the field of education in Mozambique. With it, Frelimo took the decisive step towards a mass school, a unified elementary school.

For the first time in Mozambique’s history, a school system was implemented in which the principles of socialist pedagogy were applied comprehensively and their implementation ensured by law.

Based on the groundbreaking decisions of the III FRELIMO Congress in 1977, the “Linhas Gerais do Sistema Nacional de Educação” (General Guidelines of the National Education System) were presented for discussion and decision-making at the 9th Congress of the Assembleia Popular in December 1981. With the adoption of the “Linhas Gerais…” and Law No. 4/1983, the creation of Homem Novo was defined as the most important task. Resolution 11/81 of Assembleia Popular stated: “The creation of the New Man, builder of the socialist fatherland, where everyone gives his best in his work and where everyone experiences his realization and self-affirmation, is the main objective of the educational system”. /16/

Every citizen is granted the right and duty to education. Everyone has access to all levels of education. One of the main concerns is:

To form “…the New Man, a citizen who is ideologically, scientifically, professionally, culturally and physically capable of carrying out the tasks of socialist development of the country.” /17/

The SNE was created in accordance with the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Mozambique (VRM) and the party programme of Frelimo and its educational directives. It takes into account the experience of the armed national liberation struggle and the struggle for the establishment of a new social order in the years following the achievement of independence. The general principles of Marxism-Leninism, especially those concerning socialist pedagogy and the experiences of socialist countries, are among the foundations of the new system.

The SNE is divided into 5 subsystems:

  • the subsystem of general education
  • the subsystem of adult education
  • the subsystem of vocational education and training
  • the subsystem of teacher training
  • the subsystem of higher education

The law passed in 1983 identifies the subsystem of general education as the “central axis of the national education system” /18/, ensures the polytechnic character of education and the access to other subsystems.

It includes

  • the primary level
  • secondary education and
  • the school leaving examination (pre-universitária)

The primary level now includes classes 1 to 5 in the first level and classes 6 and 7 in the second level. Classes 8 to 10 belong to the secondary level. The pupils of the 11th and 12th grades are taught in the Abitur level. At present, however, it only covers the 11th grade. According to the stipulations for the step-by-step or school-year introduction – in 1983 the 1st class was introduced, in 1984 the 2nd, in 1985 the 3rd, etc. – the introduction of the 12th class is to be expected in 1994.

In 1987, the 5th class was established in the VRM according to the SNE. Thus the Mozambican people have achieved a feat which is not to be found in southern Africa (apart from Angola).

The textbooks and teaching aids are produced by Mozambican experts at the INDE (Instituto Nacional de Desenvolvimento da Educação) – the National Institute for the Development of Education. This institution is subordinated to the Ministry of Education. The Mozambican authors ensure the help and advice of foreign cooperators, whereby the help of the Soviet Union and the GDR has found special recognition both in the Ministry and in the INDE.

The contents of the general education courses after the SNE are outlined in the already mentioned “Linhas Gerais…”. History lessons are given from grade 4 on with two lessons per week.

5. History lessons after the SNE

Since Mozambican children are now able to attend school up to grade 7 in increasing numbers, the explanations on history lessons are limited to the primary level (4th to 7th grade). The “Linhas Gerais…” set the following general goals for grades 4 and 5:

At the end of the 5th grade the pupils should know

  • the history of the fatherland, especially of production, political and social organisation, economy (agriculture, construction, transport) and culture
  • the development of the Frelimo Party, its revolutionary activity transforming Mozambican society
  • the heroes of Mozambican history

They should be able to

  • to gain historical information from oral and written testimonies and other documents (photographs, monuments, …)
  • to prepare the acquired information individually or collectively in writing (reports, descriptions, comparisons, drawings) or orally (reports, dramatisations)
  • to interpret and elaborate time graphics as well as historical maps, schemata and illustrations
  • to understand that the present Mozambique is the result of a long historical process
  • to understand that the struggle led by Frelimo led to independence and the formation of the Mozambican fatherland.

The subject contributes to the pupils’ impression:

  • interest in studying the history of the fatherland
  • the patriotic and internationalist consciousness
  • the pride of being Mozambican
  • the admiration and respect for the heroes of Mozambique

The contents are defined:

  • introduction to the story (We all have a story; the story of our village and our parents)
  • the first farmers in Mozambique
  • the ancient empires and kingdoms (Manhiquene, Mutapa, Marave and Ajaua, the Prazos on the Zambezi, Gaza)
  • the intrusion of the Portuguese and colonial rule
  • the struggle against colonialism and the armed struggle for liberation
  • the independence and construction of socialism in Mozambique /19/

The knowledge and skill goals of the second primary level are based on those of the first level or are taken up again and expanded. The goal for raising awareness is mentioned as that history teaching has to contribute to the development of

  • of patriotic and internationalist consciousness
  • the pride of being Mozambicans and the recognition of the need to defend the fatherland.
  • identification with the struggle against racism, capitalism, imperialism and apartheid
  • respect for the admiration and heroes of Africa.

The following contents are to be prepared and conveyed:

  • the oldest peoples of the African continent
  • the kingdoms and empires of West, Central and East Africa (since the 9th century)
  • the penetration of Europeans
  • the division of Africa and the occupation of the continent (and the resistance struggles)
  • colonialism
  • the liberation movements in Africa
  • the African states that have become independent
  • the current situation in Africa (fight against underdevelopment, regional organisations, apartheid policy). /20/

In the second primary level, the limited view of “only” national history is abandoned and students up to the 7th grade are given an overview of the entire history of Africa up to the present day.

How have these demands been taken into account in the implementation of the general lines in curricula and teaching aids? Basis – and thus decisive starting point – were the materials of the 4th grade, which were introduced in 1986.

First of all it is noticeable that no curriculum was developed for the 4th grade in the comprehensive sense as it is the case here in the GDR today. There is only an overview of topics in the “Book for the Teacher”, the teaching aid. The pupils received a textbook in A4 format with 96 pages. The authors were the INDE employees Alda Costa and Lucas Sitoe, the illustrations were created by Celso Reinaldo Paul, who was also responsible for the artistic design.

The textbook is richly illustrated, with many original photographs of the armed struggle against the Portuguese and historical photos from the colonial period being of particular value. The authors have succeeded in finding a simple and practicable form of introduction to history. They start from the student (“Everyone has a story”) and create points of reference (“Your school also has a story”, “The history of the home village”, etc.). Then the transition to the history of the place and the parents is made.

Altogether the following picture results /21/:

Teaching unitTopicHours per teaching unitHours per topic
1. We all have a storyYou have a story.
Your school has a story, too.
11 hours6 hours
5 hours
2. The history of our place and our parentsThe history of the village, district or city you live in,
the life of our parents in colonial times,
the time of our parents and our time.
19 hours6 hours
9 hours
4 hours
3. The history of the armed national liberation struggleIndependence Day: 25.6.1975
The Mozambicans always resisted the Portuguese colonialists.
The armed struggle..Final class test
34 hours4 hours
5 hours
23 hours
2 hours
total: 64 hours

The overview makes it clear that the introduction of the students to history is given a lot of space with 30 hours, before the “real story” begins with the depiction of the armed liberation struggle. However, one must start from the concrete situation in the country in order not to come to a wrong judgement of the materials.

The textbook begins with the drawing of two students, Samuel and Amina. The student should and can identify with them. The data from the life of Samuel and Amina allow comparisons with the lives of the students, their parents, etc..

With the inclusion of tables, the understanding of numbers and time of the children is worked on at the same time. The textbook also includes such an overview: /22/

The family of AminaYear of birthAge in 1986
the father195036 years
the mother195432 years
the eldest brother197313  years
Amina197610 years
the youngest sister19797 years
the youngest brother19815 years

After the respective text and the corresponding table have been dealt with, the result is translated into a timeline and a short summary.

It is ‘interesting’ that on each page of the textbook two thirds of the space has been used for the presentation of the material and summaries, while the left third contains references, questions, requests and illustrations.

Each unit concludes with a comprehensive “Activities” section. Here, tasks are set whose decisive words in the text are highlighted by brown printing (“describe”, “tell”, “draw”, etc.). This is followed by a set of questions relating to the previous material.

The fourth grade textbook concludes with a chronology covering the period from the 10th century to 25 June 1975. For the first time the history teachers received a teaching aid. It is extremely valuable for the history teacher because it enables him to acquire the necessary knowledge to stand above the subject to be treated. However, for material reasons one was forced to keep the scope of the subject short. The “Book for the Teacher” was printed in one volume together with the teaching aid for works.

At the beginning there is a “General Introduction” which tells the teacher what to expect from the book and how to study it. This chapter includes the “General Goals of the Fourth Class” so that the teacher can get an overview of the concerns of this class level and accentuate them accordingly in the teaching. In addition to notes on necessary working materials, this section contains censorship notes.

The actual part “History Lessons” also begins with an introduction that places the subject within the overall complex of the SNE. Finally, “goals” follow in a strongly generalised form.

The overview of topics is then listed.

On pages 14 to 24, the teacher is offered a brief methodology for his subject. It contains information on how to motivate students and formulate questions, which materials can be used in history lessons, which student activities are to be planned and implemented, how to work with terms and graphical representations (time representations), what role cards and documents play, how the teacher can work effectively with the blackboard, how student performance is to be evaluated. Without going into detail, there are methodological hints for the design of the lessons. In the process, hours that belong together in terms of content are recorded in a complex. Symbols explained in the introductory section (group work, work on the map, work with the timeline, work with the book, with documents or photos, work on the blackboard and out-of-school activities) facilitate orientation for the teacher.

Of great importance are the fact collections on the history of important cities in Mozambique included in the teaching aid, as well as the historical map sketches. The same can be said for texts which serve the further training of teachers (e.g.: the export of workers in the colonial period; forced labour; the forced cultivation of certain crops; the organisation of administration in the colonial period).

From short biographies the teachers learn interesting facts about the lives of Mozambican heroes of the national liberation struggle. This enables them to establish regional historical references.

All in all, the materials for the newly introduced fourth grade reflect the leap in quality made by the SNE in Mozambique’s education system.

The 5th grade curriculum provides for five material units:

  1. the Mozambican people long, long ago
  2. ancient kingdoms and empires (Manhiquene, Monomotapa, Marave, Ajaua, Prazos on the Zambezi, Gaza, Portuguese merchants in Mozambique)
  3. colonialism
  4. the armed national liberation struggle (FRELIMO unites the Mozambicans; new problems arose in the armed struggle; with FRELIMO the people defeated colonialism)
  5. independent Mozambique

6. On the current situation

The internal and external enemies of the VRM have repeatedly proclaimed the death of the SNE. From the outset they doubted that the young state would be able to muster the strength to carry out such an enormous revolutionary work. With the murder of thousands of teachers and the destruction of schools, they created additional obstacles to the agony of the Mozambique revolution. But despite all the adversity, there has been no delay in putting the SNE into practice to this day.

With the creation and implementation of the new educational system, Frelimo has achieved a feat whose true value can only be properly assessed in the years to come. The progress of this system is not only reflected in the new content of education. It can also be measured by the fact that the SNE has succeeded in linking society and school and that in a true elementary school there are equal educational opportunities for all children. For the first time, there is a uniform school system that provides a uniform general scientific education. The Marxian principle of the unity of teaching, productive work and gymnastics is taken into account, as is that of the unity of education and upbringing. In its objectives it strives for the active participation of the young generation in the construction of the new society. It is obvious that schools, families, youth organisations and all social forces must work together. But progress is problematic and takes place under the conditions of a hard and loss-making class struggle.

Many problems are being solved. In 1986, despite the raging counterrevolution, new schools were built in the districts of Hulene and Polana in Maputo. The quality of teacher training is constantly improving.

The proportion of trained teachers (Magistério) in primary school is still too low. In 1985, the following picture emerged with regard to teachers teaching at primary level:

with education
Form of Education:Magisterium6. + 1 (1)4. + 4
Number of teachers8410918652
without education
4th grade (2)5th grade 6th grade 7th grade 8th grade 9th grade

(1): the teacher himself has completed the 6th grade and has attended a training course for 1 year; (2): the teacher himself has completed the 4th grade and has no pedagogical training

All the more reason to assess the success achieved under these circumstances. The IV. Frelimo Congress referred to this balance:

The number of pupils in primary education rose from 67,000 in 1975 to 15,300,000 in 1982, the number of pupils in secondary education rose from 23,000 to 94,000 over the same period, and the number of secondary schools rose from 33 to 121. /23/

In recent years, companies and social organisations have been working more closely with the school everywhere.

There are still many schools in which the pupils have neither tables nor benches or exercise books and writing materials at their disposal.

The outdoor classrooms, in the shade of a large tree whose trunk supports the blackboard, are not uncommon. Teachers and students often come to school with empty stomachs, as the enemy destroys the transport routes and the fields or a persistent drought kills plants and cattle.

In the twelve years since the achievement of national independence, the people of Mozambique, led by the Frelimo, have not allowed themselves to be forced down by the disasters caused by man or nature. That will remain so.

Preparations are currently underway for the introduction of the 6th grade of the SNE.

History teaching in Mozambique will contribute to educating young patriots who fulfill the slogan of the revolutionary path. It reads: A luta continua! The struggle continues!

7. Bibliography

/1/Samora Machel in his closing remarks at the 8th meeting of Assembleia Popular, 1981
/2/Eduardo Mondlane: Lutar por Moçambique. Livraria Sá da Costa. EDITORA. Lisboa 1977. p. 61
/3/ibidem. p. 62
/4/ibidem. p. 62
/5/Data according to /2/, p. 65
/6/Relatório do Comité Central ao IV Congresso. Maputo 1983, p. 16
/7/O processo da revolução democrática popular em Moçambique. Samora Machel. Maputo 1980
/8/O Partido e as classes trabalhadoras moçambicanas na edificação da democracia popular (Samora Moises Machel). Relatório do Comité Central ao III. Congresso. Maputo 1977. S. 9
/9/ibidem. p. 20
/10/ibidem, p. 37
/11/Samora Machel: Estudemos e façamos dos nossos conhecimentos um instrumento de libertação do povo. Colecção „Palavras de Ordem”, Departamento do trabalho ideológico, Frelimo. Maputo 1977
/12/from /8/, p. 137
/13/from /11/, pp. 5-6
/14/Tempo, Number 759, April 28, 1985, Maputo, p. 8
/15/Data according to: Programa para o ensino primário. República Popular de Moçambique. Ministério da Educação e Cultura. p. 6 – 17
/16/Sistema Nacional de Educação. Linhas Gerais e Lei N. 4/83. Maputo de 1985. República Popular de Moçambique, p. 5
/17/ibidem, p. 6
/18/ibidem. p. 116
/19/according to: Sistema Nacional de Educação. Subsistema de Educação Geral. República Popular de Moçambique, Ministério da Educação, Instituto Nacional do Desenvolvimento da  Educação. p. 20
/20/ibidem. p. 33 – 34
/21/Livro do Professor. História. Actividades Laborais. Volume 4. República Popular de Moçambique. p. 13
/22/O meu livro de História. História 4. classe. Edição: INDE, Maputo 1985, p. 9
/23/according to /6/, pp. 51-52

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Last Updated on 2021-05-16