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Living, learning and playing under the development tree

© UNICEF Mozambique
School children and teachers gather under the giant tree at Nvuze primary school in Changara, one of the Child Friendly Schools in the district.

CHANGARA, Mozambique, 13 April 2011 – In Mozambique, ‘Zona de Influencia Pedagogica’, or ZIP as it is better known, is the lead school in a district school cluster. The ZIP serves as an extension of the district education administration, with the director of the lead school – known as the ZIP coordinator – performing administrative tasks for the school cluster on top of his or her regular functions as teacher and administrator.

Ms. Alina Coutinio is the director of Nvuze, one of the leading ZIP schools in Changara district in Tete province. She is in charge of a beautiful primary school with three large play spaces and a giant tree that provides both shade and a metaphoric sense of protection. The multiple play spaces make it possible for several groups of children to engage in physical activity at the same time. And the children make good use of the spaces available to them, participating in sports and physical activity two times per week for at least 45 minutes each time. \

At one end of the school yard, some children are playing soccer on an open field and at the other end, a group of volleyball players, on different sides of a net extended between two wooden poles, are engaged in loud competition. The volleyball ball and net are part of the sports kits provided through the International Inspiration programme, which works with local communities to use the power of sport to enrich the lives of millions of children and young people around the world. The program recently surpassed 10 million children and young people reached (see link at the end of the article). In the third play space, other children are playing games with hula hoops and skipping ropes. The teachers are engaged in sports at this school, and it is apparent to all how much they enjoy working with the children during physical education.

© UNICEF Mozambique
Children at the Nvuze primary school (EPC Nvuze) busily working their hula hoops.

Representatives from UNICEF UK and Mozambique recently visited the school and told the following story: Once we have taken in this energized outdoor sports scene, we head into the director’s office for an introduction to the school. After introductions, we are quite surprised to see a young boy walk into the office and stand beside the director. The boy has a quiet, shy and calm disposition, while at the same time being confident about his role in that office. He picks up a few pieces of paper and begins to read. Having read three pages of facts about the school, students and the teachers, he welcomes us, thanks us and explains what an impact we have had on his and the other students’ education quality. He mentions what came in the kits and how much the students love playing with all the sports equipment. The boy reads without hesitation or apprehension, but with a humbling sense of pride.

This boy is one of approximately 200 orphans in Nvuze. He lives with his aunt and his older sister in a small village not far from the school. His sister, who is now 13, can no longer go to school because there is no money and because there is no secondary school in the district. As a consequence, when most of the children finish primary school, it will be difficult for them to continue in secondary education. The 2010 ‘Child Poverty Study’ concludes that access to secondary schools in Mozambique is very limited, particularly in rural areas. While the number of secondary schools has more than doubled over the last 5 years, almost all of the growth has come in urban and peri-urban areas.

The teachers at Nvuze primary school is planning to host a visitor’s day for all members of the community to come and see the activities the children participate in – including sports. The visitors are likely to be impressed with this active, inclusive and motivated school!

Turning ZIPs into teacher resource centers

The lack of sub-district governmental structures and the long distance from the district center to many outlaying schools have led ZIP coordinators to spend much of their time on education administration, often to the detriment of their pedagogic functions. The 2008 ‘CFS Assessment’ concluded that teachers were in need of continuous supervision and support. In response, the Ministry of Education asked UNICEF to help develop ZIP coordinators’ competencies as pedagogic supervisors within their school clusters and transform ZIPs into teacher resource centers, which will provide teachers with support and follow-up at the most decentralized level of the education system.   

For more information on the International Inspiration program:

For more information, please contact:

Arild Drivdal, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email:

Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email:



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