How change at school can give access to rights
© UNICEF Mozambique/2012/C.Bach
Every child has a right to participate in an inclusive and non discriminatory education. There are, however, places where prejudice and stigma still stand in the way of many students, sometimes even provoked by their own parents.
When 14-year-old Ana Paulino started school at
EPC Armando Guebuza School, she did not expect
to take part in many activities—especially not in
gym class. "I was used to sitting in a corner and
waiting until class was over. I was forbidden to
touch the other children," she explains.
Ana joined Grade 6 at EPC Armando Guebuza
when she and her parents moved to Changara,
Tete province, under a year ago. When her parents
came to register her in school, they did not mention
that she and one of her younger sisters suffer from
albinism; they also did not know that the school
was part of the Child-Friendly Schools initiative,
which promotes inclusive education and the right
of all children —especially girls, children with
disabilities, orphans and vulnerable children—to
"When she started coming to school," explains
school Health Focal Point Frasia Joao Baptista, "we
knew that we had to make her feel welcome and
ensure that she participated in all activities." In her
previous school, Ana was not allowed to do sports,
or anything else that would put her into close
contact with other children. "They were afraid of me," she recounts, "so the teacher always told me
to sit away from the rest."
Ana had gotten used to staying apart from other
children, and Ms. Baptista had to convince her to
participate. "I would find lighter activities for her
that I knew she could handle; she needs to move
like the other children, and be a part of the group!"
The other children were initially afraid, or
perhaps curious, as Ana started to take part. "I did
not feel different once I started doing sports. I just
felt like it was the normal thing to do," Ana says,
pointing out how naturally she joined the group.
"Many of my classmates like me now, they are not
afraid anymore," she says with a glint in her eyes.
Ana invites us to her home, where she lives with
her parents and four siblings. She shows us the
daily work she usually does: in the morning she
goes to fetch water, and she shows us how she
then mills and refines corn seeds. "She helps out a
lot at home," her father says. "Ana is a very good
The other day, Ana's father came to school to
watch his daughter play sports. "We have realized
that Ana can do almost everything. And she is
good at playing football too!" he says proudly.
Ana feels very much a part of her class now. A
boy in the front row shouts, "Ana, come here!"
Ana goes and sits next to him, ready for her
teacher to start the lesson.