CARMELITA RITA NAMASHULUA

Mozambique 2020 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

In the last few years, the Ministry of Education and Human Development took important steps forward by reducing the illiteracy rate and expanding basic access to school.

Carmelita Rita Namashulua
BIOGRAPHY

Carmelita Rita Namashulua currently serves as Minister of Education and Human Development for Mozambique, taking office during president Nyusi's second mandate (2020-2024). Prior to this, she served as minister for state administration and public functions for two mandates (2010-2014 and 2015-2015). Prior to entering politics, she has worked as professor of physics and pedagogical director at the Secondary School Josina Machel in Maputo. Besides her teaching career, she made a name for herself working as coordinator for the support programs for vulnerable women in the Cabinet of the First Lady from 1994 to 2001 and as counselor at the National Institute for Social Action. Namashulua holds a degree in mathematics and physics from University Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) and a degree in psycho-pedagogy from the Pedagogical University in Maputo.

How would you characterize the context and challenges of your new mandate as Minister of Education and Human Development?
President Nyusi's second mandate started off with the unprecedented challenge of managing the COVID-19 pandemic and implementing extraordinary measures to face the new reality. This second mandate is bound to see, from the start, some change in governmental policies and priorities to keep up with the changing realities. The initially positive prospects for a strong economic rebound in 2020 were crucial to support and implement the government's quinquennial program (PQG) 2020-2024 as well as our Strategic Education Plan (2020-2029), which envisages promoting an inclusive and efficient educational system that guarantees the acquisition of all competences, skills, and knowledge in response to the necessity of human development. We are now coming to terms with the disruptions brought about by COVID-19, which in the education sector has meant the nationwide closure of schools, with a negative impact on the country's socioeconomic fabric. Mozambique has found itself in a protracted state of emergency, which has restricted the activities anticipated in our 2020 Economic and Social Plan (PES). Beside COVID-19, other challenges such as 2019's natural calamities, unrest in the center, and terrorism in the north are limiting our scope of actions.

What were the main achievements in the education sector over the past years?
In the last few years, we took important steps forward by enlarging the educational opportunities at all levels, reducing the illiteracy rate, and expanding basic access to school. We saw an increase in the number of schools nationwide and in the levels of literacy (67%) and numeracy (70%). Concrete highlights include the Revision on the Education National System Law (resulting in Law 18/2018) that established a nine-class basic education, consisting of a six-class primary education system administered by single teacher and a first cycle of secondary education (years 7 to 9). We introduced preschool education as a subsystem to better prepare children for primary school, expanded our strategy with relation to bilingual teaching, and introduced a better formation system for primary school teachers. An important goal has been improving access to education for girls, which reached an all-time high of 48% of all students in 2018. We are doing this also by increasing the number of female teachers in primary school, an important point of reference for young girls.

What are the main objectives, priorities, and challenges for the Ministry of Education and Human Development for the upcoming five-year-plan?
Our ultimate mission is to ensure that all children have access to quality education and the opportunity to conclude a cycle of education, acquiring at least the basic competences of reading writing and counting, which are essential to ensure a better future for our youths. We are investing continuous efforts to ensure to improve the standards and levels of our education system, in all districts of the country. We will pay specific attention to the necessities of the most remote districts in the country, dispatching more professors to these areas, improving the quality of teaching, and involving parents and communities in the process of educating children, so to ensure that all children attend at least the compulsory education cycle (primary education). An important focus from the primary education moving forward will be strengthening subjects related to civic education. We also want to improve the quality of our secondary education to offer better and more equal opportunities to our young adults coming out of school, especially to girls, so that they are ready to access the job market. In this context, we are also implementing monolingual and bilingual education programs for adults. Finally, an important goal is to improve transparency and governance in the management of schools at all levels. The challenges lying ahead of us are numerous, and we are determined to tackle all of these in the coming years—the implementation of the Law 18/2018 will be key to ensure this.