Young People

Young People

There are more than 4.2 million teenagers in Mozambique. For many, poverty, HIV/AIDS and limited education opportunities have made adolescence a particularly challenging period.

Yet, an increasing number of them are getting involved in finding solutions to their own problems and in creating new opportunities to voice their concerns through media programmes, youth groups or community theatre.

However, access to secondary school is limited and remains the privilege of mostly urban children. Only eight per cent of children of secondary school age attend high school. There are not enough secondary schools in the country and most are located in towns.

To cope with overcrowding, schools have introduced morning, afternoon and evening shifts in both secondary and primary schools. It is not uncommon to see students in class at 10 pm.

Pressure to leave school, especially for girls, comes from different fronts. Girls often have to drop out to take care of younger siblings or sick family members. Many also drop out when they get married at an early age – around 18 per cent of 20 to 24 year-old women have been married before the age of 15.

Adolescence also carries other risks. By the age of 14, a third of Mozambican children have become sexually active but knowledge of HIV prevention methods is low. Twelve per cent of young women and 27 per cent of young men aged 15–24 reported using condoms during their last sexual relation. Girls and young women are three times more likely to be HIV-positive than boys and young men.

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