"My dream is to study and never stop!"
© UNICEF Mozambique/2012/C.Bach
Students at Macunene School have prepared a play, and the message is sharp. As part of their involvement in the school theatre project focusing on social issues, the students are working to inform the community about topics of crucial concern.
Students at Macunene School have prepared a
play, and the message is sharp. As part of their
involvement in the school theatre project focusing
on social issues, the students are working to
inform the community about topics of crucial
concern. One of these is the importance, for
parents, of ensuring that their children complete
The story in the play presents a common issue
in Chibuto district (Gaza province). Because of the
difficulties in finding employment locally, and the
district's proximity to South Africa, many young
people drop out of school and seek opportunities
on the other side of the border—or in the capital.
Carlton Juvencio Djedje is one of the students
who take part in the school theatre project,
promoted by the Child-Friendly Schools initiative.
Run by the national participatory theatre association
Grupo de Teatro do Oprimido, the children's
performances focus on health, protection and
Carlton is albino, but proudly performs in front
of people. He has been part of the school theatre
for about a year now, and appreciates all the
things he has learned. He is also convinced it has
helped him to focus in school. "Before, I could not sit still, I was always restless and I had problems.
Now, I can use my energy in the theatre and study
well. I have learned a lot from the director. We talk
about important things."
He mentions that many girls leave school
because they are forced to marry at a young age.
"When a girl marries early, it is mostly because
her family has difficulties and is in need of extra
money … but then there is no turning back." The
second part of the play focuses on this problem:
a girl has been given away in marriage, and
wants to come back home and return to school;
but her father has already spent all the money he
received as a bride price.
The director of the theatre group, Joao
Bernardo Condzo, remembers how two 17-yearold
girls suddenly disappeared from school last
year. "It is a very difficult problem, because there
is no warning before this happens. The girls
just stop coming to school one day, and cut off
all contact with their friends because they are
ashamed. It is very difficult to get them back once
they are gone."
Mr. Condzo was selected to take part in his
first theatre training five years ago. It gave him
greater insight into teaching students about social
issues, and he also learned the skills of directing
plays and engaging young people in discussion.
Mr. Condzo is very proud of his group, and the
positive influence the theatre has had on his
"In the beginning the parents said their children
were wasting their time, but when they saw all
of my actors pass their final exams and become
better students, they started supporting the
group. And of course, they also enjoy the shows!" he says, laughing.
Rozita and Sheila, two girls from the group,
agree. "We are not only better students, we are
also less shy now. When people come to speak
to us we know how to answer. We learned how to
stand in front of hundreds of people, and we have
learned how to talk about difficult questions."
Joao agrees. "The only way to protect these
children is to convince their parents that school is
the most important thing there is. This will change
everything," he says, referring to his dream of
recording the next play on video and showing it
in communities that are otherwise too distant to
The show we are watching contains plenty of
comedy, but it does not have a happy ending. The
boy who left for South Africa returns home with
nothing but a pair of new sunglasses, and the girl
who used to be the best student in class is not
allowed by her new husband to study (she ends
up an ill-treated housewife). Simply put, the play
shows us the likely end game for those children in
Chibuto who do not finish school.
As all the students in the play return to the
stage, the audience is still holding its breath.
The actors join hands and lift them to the sky,
shouting, "My dream is to study and never stop!"