Cover Image
close this bookThe Reintegration of War-Affected Youth: The Experience of Mozambique (International Labour Organization, 1997, 52 p.)
close this folder4. Incorporating life skills into vocational skills training
View the document(introduction...)
View the document4.1. Literacy and numeracy
View the document4.2. Basic management skills
View the document4.3. Civic education
View the document4.4. Peace education
View the document4.5. Knowledge of human rights and labour standards
View the document4.6. HIV/AIDS awareness
View the document4.7. Psychosocial assistance
View the document4.8. Drug and alcohol abuse
View the document4.9. Mine awareness


According to the Recommendation concerning vocational guidance and vocational training in the development of human resources, “vocational” training is that which is “directed to identifying and developing human capabilities for a productive and satisfying working life and, in conjunction with the different forms of education, to improve the ability of the individual to understand and, individually or collectively, to influence working conditions and the social environment.”1 Implicit in the definition, and of obvious and especial importance in a post-conflict society, is the need to impart basic skills and knowledge as part of or linked to a programme of technical training where this is feasible and appropriate.

1 Paragraph 2(1), Recommendation concerning vocational guidance and vocational training in the development of human resources, Recommendation No. 150 of 23 June 1975.

In the same way that the content of all courses should be based on careful assessment of needs, training and education in basic skills and knowledge should flow from a realistic evaluation of the level of existing human resources and future employment prospects and obstacles. This section considers a number of issues that could be included in the context of the training and addresses some of the factors to be taken into account when seeking to determine whether or not they should in fact be included.

4.1. Literacy and numeracy

Armed conflict inevitably deprives children of education, whether because of service in an armed force or as a result of individual or familial displacement. In the case of Mozambique, a number of vocational training courses included (or were accompanied by) literacy and numeracy training and the experience seems to have been positive. Set against this is the view of some who maintain that literacy and numeracy competence should be a prerequisite in selection criteria for participation in vocational training courses, particularly where self-employment is envisaged. This view probably applies more in the case of short-term courses, such as those conducted for the demobilized, than longer-term projects for youth who have missed out on basic education.

For social as well as individual reasons, internally displaced youth are especially in need of vocational training that includes literacy and numeracy, yet they are most unlikely to receive it. Refugee children and youth tend to have better access to basic education; this seems to have been the experience in Mozambique also. As noted above, the provision of vocational training combined with support to families could not only protect and assist “street children”, it could also prevent the phenomenon from occurring.

4.2. Basic management skills

In order to succeed in self-employment once a training course has been completed, a high degree of self-reliance is called for as monitoring and follow-up are likely to be scant, if they exist at all. A number of vocational courses included basic management skills, covering issues such as workplans, costing, invoicing and basic book-keeping. If anything, the experience in Mozambique seems to have been that not enough time was spent on these issues, especially where self-employment was the objective. In the case of agriculture, for example, training in how to manage projects and production was felt to be important, but was rarely considered important enough to include in training courses. At least one commentator thought that this may change as a result of experiences.2

2 Prof. SimSevene, President, Associa dos Jovens Agricultores de Mobique, in discussion with the author, 18 Dec. 1996.

The level of management training inevitably depends on the trainees, but in Mozambique it was found that even basic skills, such as how to write a cheque, and knowledge of basic terms, such as the difference between income and profit, were badly needed by the trainees.

4.3. Civic education

A report by the European Parliamentarians for Southern Africa (AWEPA) claimed that the democratic process introduced into Mozambique was something of an anathema to a culture where respect for elders and leaders was of great importance. It affirmed that there remained a major lack of understanding of the adversarial system of governance. “The limits of political action and the role of the opposition in this new system were not clearly defined or understood as a result of which there remains a need for substantial civic education.”1

1 AWEPA, Mozambique Peace Process Bulletin, Issue 16 (Dec. 1995), Part 1.

Basic information on the democratic system is included in a number of training courses and development projects in Mozambique. In seeking to promote a transition to a “culture of peace” (in the words of UNESCO), a clear understanding is needed of the political process, backed by a conviction that it will be respected. It is, however, important to see democracy through local as well as Western eyes. Democracy and decision by consensus are not mutually incompatible, though they are sometimes difficult to reconcile.

4.4. Peace education

Little effort at peace education was included in the demobilization process, yet as stated by Federico Mayor, UNESCO Director General: “Yesterday's soldiers of war can become tomorrows soldiers of peace ... they too should be given the opportunity to engage in the process of building peace.”2

2 Quoted in Centro de Estudios Internacionales, Demobilized soldiers speak: Reintegration and reconciliation in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Mozambique, CEI, Managua, 1996, p. iii.

AMODEG is currently examining the potential of peace education in the reintegration process.3 Yet a recent conference on peace education scheduled to be held in Mozambique in December 1996 was cancelled at the last minute for fear of reinforcing the group identity of demobilized soldiers. The need to strengthen peace and advocate peaceful resolution of conflict remains a priority. Hundreds of thousands if not millions of semi-automatic weapons are believed to be stored in arms caches throughout Mozambique. Some weapons are already in use. The Christian Council of Mozambique is promoting an exchange project whereby villagers can “exchange” guns for bicycles, sewing machines, and so on. These can be given anonymously. Previously, people kept guns because of uncertainty about the sustainability of the peace process. With the conviction that peace is here to stay, a substantial number of weapons are beginning to be handed in. In fact, the Council recently encountered a problem because it ran out of materials to exchange.4

3 ibid., p. 62.

4 Adeljo Alfabet, Christian Council of Mozambique, in discussion with the author, 18 Dec. 1996.

UNICEF is preparing a booklet on peace education which will be made available to all adults dealing with children, including teachers, social workers, health workers, NGO workers and community leaders and volunteers.

4.5. Knowledge of human rights and labour standards

In 1994, as part of the activities prepared for the Day of the African Child, UNICEF organized elections on the rights of the child. Some 94,000 children from six provinces chose the most important principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The objective of the event was to disseminate the contents of the Convention among children, parents and teachers, and to undertake a practical democratic exercise in preparation for the national elections that took place in October 1994. The children's rights elections also served as an advocacy tool to sensitize government officials, legislators, representatives from the media and other organizations working on behalf of children in Mozambique about the rights of children.1 UNICEF continues to work with the Christian Council of Mozambique to promote children's rights.2

1 UNICEF, The expansion of CEDC Services/Peace Education Project, UNICEF report, Maputo, undated, p. 17.

2 UNICEF, Mozambique situation update, May-July 1996, Maputo, undated.

As seen above, “gender” training has been included systematically in courses offered by the Government's agricultural training centre. On the whole the experience has been positive, although of course cultural realities cannot be changed overnight. In addition, UNICEF is preparing a booklet on gender awareness which will be made available to all adults dealing with children, including teachers, social workers, health workers, NGO workers and community leaders and volunteers. A task force on human rights in the NGO forum, LINK, started in October 1996 joining together local NGOs.

Despite these initiatives, it is clear that the dissemination of human rights and labour standards occupies a fairly low priority in Mozambique, both among government officials and among agencies and non-governmental organizations. This is in part due to the fear that standards are set that cannot possibly be respected in the current economic situation in Mozambique. Ingraining a rights culture among the young, however, strengthens protection efforts and reinforces a sense of international solidarity. Rights training should, in time, become part of the curriculum, but could also usefully be included in vocational training courses, particularly in the training of trainers. The discussion need not be technical but should help to ensure that those charged with protecting or assisting children and youth do not end up abusing their rights through ignorance.

4.6. HIV/AIDS awareness

According to the Ministry of Health, between January 1990 and May 1996, a total of 3,318 cases of AIDS were diagnosed in Mozambique.3 The worst-hit provinces were Manica and Tete, followed by Sofala and Zambezia, all of which are in the centre of the country. These are the provinces which are home to the greatest number of refugees returning from high-HIV-infected areas, such as in Malawi and Zimbabwe. Few health units, however, have the technical resources to diagnose the HIV virus and government estimates suggest that as many as 16,000 Mozambicans have AIDS and possibly 1 million (one-sixteenth of the population) have the HIV virus.4 The results of the latest governmental HIV/AIDS survey are expected soon.

3 Dr. Avertino Barreto, Head of the Health Ministry's AIDS Programme, quoted by AIM Reports, Issue No. 87 (18 June 1996).

4 UNICEF, Mozambique situation update: November 1995-January 1996, p. 4.

The Ministry of Health, together with the Mozambican Red Cross and other non-governmental organizations, has tried to alert the public to the need of using condoms in any casual or extra-marital sexual encounters. UN AIDS was launched in April 1996 in Mozambique. A technical group has been preparing a list of all AIDS-related activities in the country and efforts have begun to encourage an intersectoral approach to HIV prevention.1

1 UNICEF, Mozambique situation update, May-July 1996, Maputo, undated.

In addition, an international NGO, Comunica e Marketing Social Para Saude (PSI), has been involved in AIDS and other STD-awareness activities. Their focus has been on high-risk groups, such as soldiers, the police, lorry drivers and sailors. Activities are also carried out with children in groups of not more than 20 both in school (a youth-to-youth school-based programme has begun in Tete province with the Ministry of Education and expansion to other provinces is planned) and out of school (e.g. through theatre, associations and church groups.) The emphasis is on peer education. PSI picks someone from community2 and trains him or her to become a trainer.

2 The selection process is done through the local health centre. Selection criteria are that the individual must be aged between 18 and 30, must be able to read and write, must know the local language, and must be trusted within the community.

Condoms are provided free by the Government in health centres - this has always been the case. PSI, on the other hand, import Jeito3 from the United States and sell the condoms. The cost of a packet of four, which is heavily subsidized, is 500 meticals (equivalent to approximately 4 US cents). A free condom is supplied in an awareness pamphlet (which is unfortunately only in Portuguese). PSI also run three radio spots. Rap music is used as a method of communication with the youth. The concentration of the messages is mainly in urban and peri-urban areas, but work in some high-risk rural and border areas started in December 1996.

3 The word means “cool” or “style” and is thus clearly youth-oriented.

A number of obstacles have been encountered during the programme. There is some cultural resistance to the use of condoms on the part of men, who say that they reduce their sexual pleasure. “You don't eat a banana with the peel on!” is a message commonly heard. Many women have a fear of negotiating with their partners for the use of contraceptives. At school level, the organization found that it had as many objections from teachers as it did from parents (on the basis that they were teaching about sexuality). There is a need to work on curriculum development to institutionalize HIV/AIDS awareness.

PSI is also working with prostitutes but find that it is difficult to gain their trust. Men are willing to pay more to have sex without a condom. Although some prostitutes insist on the use of contraception, not all do so.

Another initiative aimed at the literate young is the free distribution of the Magazine SIDA by the youth newspaper, Aro. The paper, which is only available in Portuguese, has had a distribution of 21,000. Its publication was supported by Redd Barna (Norwegian Save the Children).

Given the risk posed by the demobilized soldiers, it is rather surprising that no HIV/AIDS awareness seems to have been undertaken in the assembly areas, whether linked or not to the vocational training programmes. The opportunity to inform captive high-risk audiences of the dangers of AIDS should be seized. In addition, even though HIV/AIDS training may not be formally included in vocational training programmes, information and awareness posters can be put up on walls as they are, for instance, in the CFPM training centre described in box 1 above.

4.7. Psychosocial assistance

As noted above, the demobilized did not receive any counselling or assistance prior to, during, or following the demobilization apart from that provided through individual interviews at the Information and Referral Service.4 In addition, staff working with the demobilized and other war-affected populations did not have adequate skills to recognize and cope with their own and others' stress-related problems. The training of trainers should at least enable the identification of those with acute psychological problems and should inform the trainers of the appropriate action to take. It is not suggested, however, that they become psychological counsellors.

4 Bryant, op. cit., p. 33.

Training social workers on home visiting methodologies has been implemented by the Ministry of Social Welfare with the technical assistance of UNICEF. A training module on trauma counselling adapted to the needs of social workers has been prepared by the Psychotrauma Institute and will be used in the training curriculum of social workers. During visits to the children, information on additional needs (e.g. counselling, vocational training, education) is collected and centralized provincially and nationally for further intervention. According to UNICEF, at least 2,000 children are regularly visited by social workers country-wide.1

1 UNICEF, Assistance to ex-child soldiers in Mozambique, September 1993 to October 1996, UNICEF report, Maputo, undated, p. 6.

4.8. Drug and alcohol abuse

Given the apparently widespread and increasing drugs problem in Mozambique, it is surprising that PSI has found no groups to link with in its HIV/AIDS-awareness work. Drug and alcohol abuse is often found among former soldiers and are frequently indicative of deeper psychological disturbances. Again, training of trainers should ensure the sensitivity of the trainers to these problems.

4.9. Mine awareness

Mine-awareness education seeks to alert the civilian population to the dangers of land mines and other unexploded ordnance (UXO) and to equip them with skills to minimize the risk of injury while living in a mine-affected area. As in dozens of other countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America, land mines are a substantial impediment to post-conflict development in Mozambique, rendering fertile agricultural land useless and endangering the lives and limbs of predominantly rural populations.

No one knows how many mines have been laid across Mozambique. The United Nations estimates that 3 million mines remain uncleared,2 although a Mozambican Parliamentarian has poured scorn on this figure.3 Whatever the true figure, some 17,000 Mozambican men, women and children have been killed or injured in land-mine explosions since the 1992 peace agreement.4 As a result of the dangers of mines and UXO, a number of non-governmental organizations, including Halo Trust, Handicap International, Mozambican Red Cross and Norwegian People's Aid, have undertaken mine awareness programmes in Mozambique.

2 United Nations Department for Humanitarian Affairs Mines Database, Dec. 1996.

3 Sergio Vieira, Rapporteur of the FRELIMO party and former Deputy Defence Minister.

4 AIM Reports, Issue No. 87 (18 June 1996).

The Mozambican Red Cross has a special youth programme using Red Cross volunteers who undertake drama activities which they find a good way of passing on the message. Also used in the programme are plastic bags, stickers, sarongs and exercise books distributed to schools, all with mine-awareness messages. UNICEF has supported the mine-awareness programme by Handicap International, which in 1995 and 1996 trained adults (though surprisingly not children) in mine awareness in six provinces of the country. In 1997, UNICEF support will focus on two provinces, Manica and Sofala, where provincial offices for mine awareness will be established.5

5 UNICEF, The expansion of CEDC Services/Peace Education Project, UNICEF report, Maputo, undated, p. 18.

International guidelines for its community mine-awareness programmes are currently being prepared by UNICEF in New York and will be available as a resource tool to interested agencies and organizations. It is clear that “effective” mine awareness requires experience and should not be undertaken by amateurs. A high level of technical knowledge is not, however, necessary. A linkage to vocational training can be advantageous if the trainees are likely to return to a high-risk area, but is relatively pointless for urban dwellers as cities in Mozambique are clear of mines.