Mosambik: Zaida Cabral

I believe in education. If people have access to education, they can make a difference in their lives.

— Zaida Cabral

Zaida Cabral, born in 1951 in Maputo (Mozambique), is an educationalist. She is currently an education advisor for the Danish NGO Danida in the Mozambiquan capital Maputo. She has a master’s degree in education and has served as a researcher and as national director of primary education at the ministry of education. She was also a member of parliament. Her focus is on empowering women and the girl-child. She is one of the most prominent educationalists in Mozambique.

“Most women are really fighters for a better life," says Zaida Cabral about her observations of women for the past 20 years. But it could as well be her own life she is talking about. Born in a poor Muslim family in Mozambique, she could only complete four years of primary education. It was not until she was 19 years old that she was able to further her education – up to a master’s degree in education which she gained at the age of 44. In between she struggled every step of the way and was supported by the people she worked with. “I think am a fighter," she says with a smile. Becoming an educationalist was not her choice of career at all. But in post-colonial Mozambique, which had an illiteracy rate of 93 percent, the government opened doors for all to go to school and teachers were in high demand. Six months into her studies, she enjoyed it very much. Her first position after graduating was as a researcher for the Institute for Development of Education in Maputo. There she laid the foundation for a bilingual approach in primary education – which was after much resistance implemented 20 years later. In 1993, she moved to the ministry of education, and two years later she became a member of parliament for five years. Since 1995 she has worked as a consultant for international organizations and NGOs. Zaida is deeply involved in helping to develop a comprehensive education program for her country. She works at community level with schools and health centers. At national and regional level she lobbies tirelessly for access to education particularly for girls and the rural poor. “If you have women more educated, if they can make the choice between three or eight children, if they have opportunities, they will look at their lives differently,“ she says.

Danish International Development Agency (Danida) ActionAid