Comoros – Literacy

Literacy is a fundamental human right


In 2013, this project was supported by the Swiss Embassy of Madagascar.

Literacy is a basic skill

Literacy is a fundamental human right established by the United Nations. In almost every society, literacy is a basic skill on which many other essential life skills are based. In the Comoros archipelago, an Islamic republic in the Indian Ocean, nearly one-third of the population is illiterate (according to UNESCO statistics 2009). The vast majority are women. In rural areas, the illiteracy rate is estimated to be much higher. For this reason, since 2012, we have been running a literacy project in collaboration with a local association and the Ministry of Education.

Literacy in the native language

You are not able to read or write in your mother tongue? Inconceivable! Imagine: you are a woman, about 30 years old, and you are sitting in a literacy class because you cannot read or write. You try hard to recognize the letters in the book: “n – t – r – o – n – g – o … Ah, ntrongo!” Now you are indeed very proud because you know how to read the word “ntrongo” – but the problem is that you have no idea what this means!


This is precisely the situation in the Comoros. As a legacy of the colonial era, schooling is taught in French, whereas the mother tongue of the Comorians is the “Shikomori” (which belongs to the Swahili language family of East Africa).

In our home country, we would never come up with the idea to teach our children to read and write in a foreign language. Why should it be different in the Comoros? Whoever reads without understanding, simply wastes his time!

For this reason, we have set ourselves the goal of creating teaching tools in “Shikomori”.


In collaboration with a team of local specialists, we have created a new reading manual in the local language.

In addition, PartnerAid supports an initiative that requires children to be taught, at least in the first years of their schooling, in their mother tongue. A child who reads in his mother tongue and understands what he is reading, will normally continue to read when he is an adult – and will therefore be able to continue learning and studying by himself.

Achievements since 2012

  • Literacy textbooks in the local language (level 1) and in French
    (levels 2 and 3)
  • Training of literacy teachers for all three levels
  • Training of local supervisors
  • Between 2012 and 2018, organisation, implementation and supervision of 26 literacy classes (in 3 levels) in different villages, with a total of 700 students
  • in 2015/16, a new literacy manual in the mother tongue for infant classes was successfully tested in 10 classes of the public school with about 500 children