The history of literacy learning in Mozambique proceeds through a number of sharply contrasting phases, and is particularly interesting in the way that it reveals its dependence on the political and economic strategy being practiced by the government. In each phase, the motivations of the providers and the seekers of access to literacy differ, as do the literacy results, in line with the prevailing relations of power, mode of production, and political situation.
Underlying this paper are two basic understandings about the provision and use of access to adult literacy:
—adult participation in literacy teaching-learning programs is first and foremost a question of motivation; and
—large-scale successes in literacy programs are dependent on factors that raise and sustain that motivation, and therefore, principally on the power, legitimacy, and encouragement of the state (Lind and Johnston, 1986).
The effects of literacy on society seem reasonably clear; at least, it is clear that societies with a high level of literacy are materially better off than those with a low level, and that the presence of widespread literacy skills in a society substantially affects its culture, relationships, power structure, and economy. To an extent this has given rise to the idea that education has the value of material capital and that economic development will take place if (and maybe only if) enough effort is invested in education. A careful look soon shows, however, that one is rather faced with a typical chicken and egg issue. Consequently, heavy investment in the promotion of literacy skills in a society does not automatically guarantee economic development. Nor is it necessarily satisfactory to begin by defining development as synonymous with economic growth.