There has been significant improvements in education in Mozambique. The abolition of school fees in 2003/04 and provision of direct support to schools and free textbooks, along with investments in classroom construction and teachers, resulted in a surge in primary and secondary school enrolments from 3.6 million in 2003 to around 6.7 million by 2014. Primary school enrolment now is at 97%. Intake of children aged 6 years old has significantly improved up to over 80%. Gender parity in primary and secondary enrolment has also improved.
However, many challenges remain for delivering basic education in Mozambique. Primary completion rates, even though they initially increased rapidly from a low base, have been stagnating at around 47% over the past few years, due to persistent high rates of primary school drop-out and repetition. A 2012 study by UNESCO estimates that approximately 1.2 million (or 23%) of primary and secondary school aged children are out of school; of these, 775,000 are primary school aged children, and nearly 55% are girls. The study highlights the factors related to poverty and socio-cultural norms that keep children from finishing school, such as early marriage and pregnancy, as well as distance from home to schools, lack of safe school spaces, overcrowded classrooms, and a lack of adequate number and quality teachers.
Although there has been large-scale construction over the past few year at a rate of 1,450 classrooms per year, 45% of primary school classrooms are still in precarious conditions. And in spite of government contracting thousands of new teachers annually (in 2013, government contracted over 8,000 teachers - the majority for primary schools), the ratio of teacher to student in the early grades of primary schools are still at a high as 1:63, and there are significant geographical disparities in teacher deployment.
Low learning achievement in primary schools in Mozambique is also a cause of great concern. A national assessment of learning achievement found that on average fewer than one out of ten children in grade 3 have basic reading competencies. The national study indicated that there are links between low learning and key-issues such as teacher absenteeism, teacher capacity, school management, the use of Portuguese as a language of instruction and unconducive learning environments. In addition, only 4 per cent of children below 6 years, mostly in urban areas, have access to any kind of state-funded early learning opportunities which often means that children are not ready for school, contributing to low learning and dropout.
Child friendly education
An evaluation conducted in 2012 showed that the Child Friendly Schools package was contributing to a reduction in drop-out rates and that directors and teachers appreciated that the intervention enabled them to improve their capacities. However, the evaluation also indicated that more needed to be done, in particular to improve learning outcomes and to reach all primary schools across the country in a more affordable and sustainable manner. The conclusion was, therefore, that UNICEF needed to transition towards a broader approach to child-friendly education in Mozambique.
UNICEF has now started this transition and is gradually moving away from a focus on service delivery towards helping to build a child friendly education system that will reach all children in all schools throughout the country. This implies stepping up on-going engagement in evidence-based advocacy and dialogue to inform policies and strategies, providing technical inputs into systemic reforms, and supporting the capacity development of key-actors at different levels. Increasingly the focus will be on ensuring that teaching and learning are every school’s core business and the education system’s main mandate. This will imply a concentration of efforts both technically and financially on empowering key actors to deliver quality education and to facilitate effective learning of, at least, basic literacy and numeracy skills in primary schools. To achieve this, special attention will be paid to teacher development, school leadership and quality assurance.
Acknowledging the success of the multi-sectoral Child Friendly Schools package to help keep children in school, UNICEF will advocate to mainstream the multiple dimensions of WASH, health, nutrition, child protection and prevention of HIV-AIDS in relevant policies, curricula, and guidelines. UNICEF will also help empower school councils to promote and safeguard children’s wellbeing inside and outside school.
800 schools and 500,000 children reached by the Child Friendly Schools Programme;
Development and piloting of school quality standards;
Development of a school council manual that will be distributed nationwide;
Piloting of a new national teacher-training programme;
Coordination between governments and partners for the implementation of a government-led national multi-sectorial strategy on Early Childhood Development – ECD;
Helped mobilize almost 150 million US$ to the sector in 2014 (leading FASE coordination) and supported the Ministry’s application for additional financing from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which will hopefully contribute another 56.9 million US$ to the basket fund;
A revised national strategy on gender and integration of cross-cutting strategies including gender, HIV/AIDS and life skills, DRR and violence and abuse life skills education into school and teacher training programmes;
The way forward
UNICEF will continue to engage in the Sector Wide Approach as well as provide technical and financial support to the Ministry of Education to improve equitable access to quality education and learning for all children in Mozambique.
The focus will be on teacher development and management, quality standards, community mobilization, decentralized planning and monitoring, and multi-sectoral strategies for keeping children, adolescent girls in particular, in school. UNICEF will be supporting a series of surveys and baseline studies to generate evidence to better inform planning for such reforms and programmes.
On a sub-national level, UNICEF prepares to launch an intervention in the provinces of Zambezia and Tete, which aims to improve the quality of education and learning outcomes. This intervention was designed with national and provincial stakeholders over the course of 2014, with three key objectives:
- strengthen teacher development and teacher support systems,
- pilot and document low cost school-based solutions for teaching & learning,
- build capacities for decentralized evidence-based planning and monitoring.
- Blog: Better learning through better teaching
Por Janet Lennox, Especialista de Educação.
21 June 2017 Education
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