Focus: Education

Lifelong Learning

Lifelong Learning

May. 9, 2013

Unified steps toward strengthening the sector are being taken in the areas of teacher training, primary school attendance, and university education.

Since the mid-1990s, the Mozambican government has strived to improve the education sector through a variety of initiatives and with the support of the international community. Most important was the move to establish primary education as compulsory until the age of 12 in 2005, which has helped the country close in on a 100% attendance rate in 2012, up from just 68% in 1997. All fees for attending public school were also removed, leading to an impressive surge in student enrollment numbers. This in turn led to a shortage of teachers and difficulties in monitoring educational quality, which are the two main areas the country is working to improve upon in 2013.

Although the literacy rate has increased dramatically over the past few decades to reach 48% and completion rates for primary school have also shown growth in recent years, overall figures remain low compared to world averages. To overcome persistent challenges such as orphan dropout rates and the effects of HIV/AIDS on the school system, international organizations such as UNICEF and the World Bank have launched programs to boost the local government's efforts.

Since 2000, the government has allocated an average of 20% of revenues and 5% of GDP to the education sector, according to World Bank figures. Much of the development in the first part of the century occurred between 2000 and 2003, when 1,005 lower primary schools and 428 upper primary schools were established. Currently, about 100,000 teachers teach 6 million students at over 14,000 primary and secondary schools, technical education institutes, and teacher-training courses across the country. Moreover, over 110,000 students are enrolled at the country's 18 higher education institutes.

WORKING TOGETHER

The government has welcomed support from the international community as it seeks to improve the quality of education in both urban and rural areas. This collaboration has successfully contributed to the wide coverage of education throughout Mozambique, and the continuation of long-term projects is expected to be a key driver of the sector in 2013.

In late January 2013, the World Bank announced its intentions to provide Mozambique with $700 million in “soft" loans, to be disbursed over the next two years. The World Bank's Vice-President for Africa, Makhdar Diop, emphasized that a large portion of the funds should be allocated to Mozambique's education sector. “Reforms are needed to bring the Mozambican education system into line with the needs of the productive sector, and to expand technical training, thus giving young people more employment opportunities," Diop explained to the press. Sourced from the World Bank affiliate the International Development Association (IDA), the loans will be repaid over 50 years, with no interest charged.

Meanwhile, UNICEF collaborated with the Ministry of Education in 2012 to design and implement a strategic vision for the education sector, to be carried out over a three-year period. The plan focuses on bridging the gender gap in education, addressing the issue of out-of-school children, and ensuring a safe and healthy school environment in each classroom. The organization also continued its Child-Friendly School (CFS) initiative, which intervenes in the areas of health and sanitation at 750 schools nationwide and incorporates multi-sector participation. Furthermore, in collaboration with government officials, the subjects of disaster risk reduction and disease prevention were more integrated into the national school curriculum. UNICEF funding for the education sector reached $6.4 million in 2011, reflecting a combined total of both local and international contributions.

At the 2013 school year opening ceremony in the Maputo municipal district of Katembe, Mayor David Simango encouraged families to support the massive efforts to improve education in the country by condemning domestic violence and emphasizing nutrition and health in terms of student learning. In his view, constant contact between teachers and parents is key to the development of the sector. “Without the collaboration of families, it is difficult for the educationof the children to be successful," Simango explained in a January 2013 speech.

All entities involved in education in Mozambique are looking ahead to the future achievement of the Millennium Development Goal 2a: “'To ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling." Although the Ministry of Education conceded that the targets may not necessarily be met on time, Mozambique is expected to accomplish 100% attendance and completion at a primary level by 2017, which coincides with the government's strategic plan.


HIGHER EDUCATION

In Mozambique, higher education institutes include publicly funded universities and a range of other establishments geared toward the development of the adult population. Currently, there are 18 higher education institutions in the country, all of which are publicly funded. On average, 64% of the country's education budget is allocated to higher education annually. Enrollment fees remain low at MZN600 per course, and students in financial need can apply for scholarships issued by the government.

Founded in 1962, Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM) is the first and oldest university in Mozambique. To support its students and become a pioneer for education in the country, UEM has formed many partnerships with both foreign universities and international organizations. As the institution grows, Rector Orlando Quilambo emphasized the need for even more investment in order to purchase the appropriate equipment and build the necessary facilities for subjects such as geology and medicine. However, the main challenge the school faces is its limited capacity, receiving approximately 30,000 applications per year for only 4,000 places. “Almost all of the engineering courses are very much in demand, and now, with the new discoveries, there will be even greater demand. The Department of Geology will also be significantly more popular in coming years, thanks to the discovery of coal," Quilambo told TBY. For UEM, robust interest from the local population is key to attracting further partnerships and investments from large companies that seek human resources, especially in the field of science. In the future, the university plans to offer post-graduate degrees and look into distance learning as possibilities to meet demand.

In terms of studying abroad, students can find opportunities close to home in South Africa, or from as far away as Europe or Australia, with destinations in China forecast to become more popular. In general, students studying abroad return to Mozambique after graduation. In late October 2012, the Ministry of Education reviewed its scholarship scheme for students both inside and outside of the country, with proposals to increase the level of funding available. According to Octavio de Jesus, Director of the Education Ministry's Scholarship Institute (IBE), 2,760 Mozambicans are on scholarships issued by the government. The 2012 budget for the IBE was approximately $5.9 million, much of which covered living expenses and tuition fees. However, in the coming year, the institute is also seeking ways to gather information about what students study and how they can contribute to the country's development upon their return.

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