The RISE Podcast: Armando Ali on Assessing Learning in Mozambique and the Power of Citizen Action

Armando Ali discusses why literacy and numeracy are important indicators of whether education systems are working and the potential of community action.


Image of Armando Ali

Armando Ali

PAL Network

Image of Joseph Bullough

Joseph Bullough

RISE Directorate

Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford

In this episode, RISE partnerships manager and co-producer of the RISE podcast Joe Bullough speaks to Armando Ali, CEO of the People’s Action for Learning (PAL) Network—a South-South network of organisations working to conduct citizen-led assessments of learning to empower citizens and spur political action to improve learning. Armando revisits memories of school in Nampula, Mozambique and reflects on (one generation later) what he learned from the first citizen-led assessment of children’s learning in Mozambique, and the “Wiixutta Nithweelaka” (“Learn by Play”) programme to help children catch up on missed foundational skills. They discuss why literacy and numeracy are important indicators of whether education systems are working to give children value in their education, and the power and potential of community action to drive learning outcomes worldwide, village to village.


Guest biographies

Armando Ali

Armando Ali is the Chief Executive Officer at the PAL Network where he provides overall leadership, nurtures a sense of collective ownership and belonging within the network and ensures sustained growth, health and impact. Armando is an Education Specialist with over 20 years of experience in mobilising citizens to improve the quality of education. He is passionate about improving foundational literacy and numeracy skills of children in the early grades and, since 2001, has held a variety of leadership roles in civil society and academia, advocating for the right of quality education for all children.

Before joining PAL Network, he worked as an education specialist with UNICEF, Mozambique. He also previously worked as the coordinator of Mozambique’s Citizen-led Action, Wiixutta Nithweelaka – an approach inspired by Teaching at the Right Level that helps children to improve their reading and arithmetic competencies. He holds a Master’s degree in Peace and Development Work from Linnaeus University in Sweden. 

Joe Bullough

Joe Bullough is the Partnerships Manager for the RISE Programme and a co-producer of the RISE podcast, based at the Blavantik School of Government at the University of Oxford. 

Joe manages RISE’s engagement with global partners, and facilitates relationships internally across the RISE network. He also leads RISE’s practitioner-focused work through the RISE Community of Practice. Prior to RISE, Joe was a consultant to the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, and also worked as a programme officer for the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation, an intergovernmental agency set up to support the development of education, culture and sciences in the Southeast Asian region. He holds a master's degree in education policy and management from the Danish School of Education (Danmarks Paedagogiske Universitet) in Copenhagen. 


RISE is funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office; Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Programme is implemented through a partnership between Oxford Policy Management and the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford. The Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford supports the production of the RISE Podcast.

Producers: Joseph Bullough and Katie Cooper

Audio Editing: James Morris

RISE blog posts and podcasts reflect the views of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation or our funders.