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Arnaldo: teachers sell marks

Arnaldo: “The government does not help camponeses properly, although they say that agriculture is the basis of the economy.”

Family is very important to Arnaldo. He was five when his father abandoned his wife and three children. “We were working in the field so that we could get something to eat,” he recalls. Nine years later they were rescued by Arnaldo’s grandfather, who assumed “all responsibility for us”.

Aged 14, Arnaldo was finally able to go to school, and is still studying today, aged 27. However, he keeps failing his exams because the teachers “took my marks and ‘sold’ them to other people” and says some teachers demand payment – or sexual favours from female students – in return for “marks”.

He talks about the high incidence of HIV and AIDS among young people, saying that girls are particularly vulnerable “because of poverty”.

We grew up under certain difficulties, and even now I am facing these difficulties because my father decided…to abandon the house where we lived and we stayed with my mother only, who gave us assistance until we grew up… We stayed in Inhambane for nine years without my father coming to see us… That is why I started school late, at the age of 14…

We were sad sometimes [without our father]. I was living with my sisters. We were working in the field so that we could get something to eat. Sometimes we were going to work in other people’s fields to get money to buy clothes and to buy food…

Importance of family

It was possible [to survive] due to the help of our grandfather. My mother’s father fetched us from Inhambane. We came here and he took all responsibility for us. When he heard that my father was in a certain place, he went there to tell him about us. My father promised to come, but he never did. Now he has heard that we have grown up, and he is trying to come to us. [But] we know that it was our grandfather who gave us assistance and looked after us all the time…

We have been facing hardships even in terms of food. My mother often works in the field so that she can support us, and give us money to pay for school… Even now I think about building a house to leave her… or she stays with me in my house. That would be something very good if I managed to achieve it, and also my father would say: “Why did I punish those children? Now look: they are doing something very good for their mother.” After that, he could come to ask for forgiveness, because he should ask for forgiveness from our grandfather, who was giving us all assistance.

Corruption among teachers

At the age of only 14 I started to have thoughts about looking for employment [in the future] to support the family, because I am the man, the oldest one; the rest are sisters. I have tried all this [time to study]; now I am studying in Grade 10. It is difficult to study at this level of education because there are some teachers who demand money if you want to pass the class… I have to struggle so that I can support my family…

We have some teachers who sell our marks [to others] if you do not have the means to pay for them. Mainly [it happens] here at Guaza Muthini secondary school. It is the only secondary school and they should care for us well and teach us properly, but there are teachers who undermine the teaching; they leave the classroom and go and drink beer, and when they return to the class they say the lesson is over…

They sell our marks to the people with money, and we suffer. And I am in this school where teachers abuse the girls, and girls give themselves to the teachers because they want marks, but in the end they miss out on their studies because of the teachers. Teachers do not consider or respect the students; they do whatever they want. What kind of education are we going to have?

If you complain, the teachers will mark you down. For example, I submitted a complaint about a certain teacher for the way he is teaching us and because he is often drinking beer. He marks you down. I have now been studying at Grade 10 for three years, not because I am unable to pass [the examination]. For example, in the first term I did well in all my examinations, but they took my marks and ‘sold’ them to other people.

[At this rate] there will not be any development, because I can say that this is the most respected secondary school in the district. And if they do that [here], I am sure other teachers will be trained [in the future] who will also do the same.

Criminal gangs; police indifference

There are young people who used to smoke cannabis, like in the Ngolane area, very near the town, and in the Papucides area, where there are many cases of girls being attacked by criminals when they come home from school. Sometimes women are attacked by criminals who demand money from people coming back from work.

For example, in this street, before houses were built in this area, there was a group of criminals who used to ambush people passing by. But now this street is quiet; only Ngolane and Papucides are areas of risk at night – you can’t walk through there. You need security to go through them at night…

Although [there are meant to be] patrols at night, the police do not go out. You can go to the police station and you see them sitting there. They only leave when there is a problem…

Collective agriculture: “good” and “bad”

My mother is harvesting maize, but it is not like in the past. I can say that from 2000 to 2002, agriculture was yielding good results but now it is very difficult to get a good yield. Sometimes we contribute 50,000 meticais to buy seeds, and because that is borrowed money, we do not see any income [after we have paid the interest]…

There is a collective piece of land that belongs to the organizações de camponeses, and UNAC (União Nacional de Camponeses; national small farmers’ movement) supports those associations in [cultivating] that piece of land, because supporting just one person is not easy. They sow the seeds and then they divide [the crop] between them. It is a way to help children to go to school and to get food.

Now [my mother] is trying to get money so that she can pay the fees to be a member of the association. On one hand it is a good thing, but on the other it is not good, because there are some people who say that they do better if they are not in the associations, because in the association, the work is collective and [some members] think the work is easy…

There are no roads or proper conditions for people to take their produce from their fields… You have to get someone who can carry the produce… The government does not help camponeses properly, although they say that agriculture is the basis of the economy.

HIV and AIDS: people must “not feel isolated”

Here in Marracuene many people are infected with this disease and they need to be helped. There are people who are infected and their families can do nothing… these organisations do not help very much because they just help with food, and not with medicine like anti-retrovirals, so that a person can be motivated.

And these people must be visited so that they do not feel isolated – to feel that I am not alone in this world – because here in Marracuene people die, they are not visited. When someone is HIV-positive, the family starts to isolate him…  Here in Marracuene, they promote workshops advising people how to use condoms. For me it is not enough; they should give moral support, and visit patients. But the most important thing should be food and regular visits…

Young people [are most affected], but mainly women. There are many girls, and some even go to South Africa, but when they return they are HIV-positive and since their status is not known, they end up infecting young men…

Many girls get HIV and AIDS – because of poverty mainly, because of not having anything at home. For example this road Number 1 is the Mozambique corridor and many trucks stop there; [the girls] go there and get involved with people they don’t know – and they don’t know whether they use condoms. They get paid 10,000 or 20,000 meticais and in the end they get the virus.

Land and corruption

I bought a piece of land from someone; I paid a small sum of money and later another man came who paid for the same land but with a big amount. And the owner told me to leave the plot and he gave me back the money, saying “This land was for that man there [and] I gave it to you because that man was not coming. But now that he is here, give me back my land and here is your money.” Really, this happens often.

The local authorities can do nothing because some of these people are part of the authorities, so they can even order someone to leave the plot in 24 hours’ time, or they just take bribes.

There are some people from town; they arrive here and they create problems for us just because they want to occupy a piece of land to build a house or [create] a garden, while those without power continue in absolute poverty. [Such people] increase our poverty.

Poverty means being “unable to help your family”

A poor man is a person with family but without [the right] conditions: he does not have food, sometimes in a day he has only lunch or only dinner and he goes to sleep without eating. He has no education, he has nothing in his life…

Poverty can be defined in many ways. For example, if somebody does not go to school, does not have access to education, I can say this is poverty. [Or if] someone is sick and cannot go to the hospital.

I can say I am going to look for employment and I do not get it, or I am not skilled enough for the work; then I suffer because I stay thinking about my family. I think this is also poverty. If you are unable to help your family this ends up as poverty.

This interview has been specially edited for the web and cut down by more than half. Some re-ordering has taken place: square brackets indicate ‘inserted’ text for clarification; round brackets are translations / interpretations; and dots indicate cuts in the text. The primary aim has been to remain true to the spirit of the interview, while losing questions, repetition, and confusing or overlapping sections.

Project

Arnaldo: teachers sell marks is produced as part of the Living with poverty: Mozambique oral testimony project.

Testimonies

Amélia: women are leaders

Antonio: collective responsibility

Arnaldo: teachers sell marks

Boafesta: cattle are hope

Gomes: working with youth

Jorgina: the value of cooperatives

Maria: totally forgotten

Pamira: great suffering

Pedro: importance of agriculture

Raquelina: only me

Rafael: worth nothing

Ucilina: living from agriculture

Key themes

Infrastructure

Conservation conflicts

Collective action

Overview

Infrastructure

Introduction

Collective action

Livelihood and migration

Support for development

Conservation conflicts

Family

Farming

Education

Health

Conflict

Women’s status

Poverty

Trade and economics