January 8, 2004

A million children still unable to study

Over a million children of school age will be unable to attend primary school in 2004 for lack of space in the classrooms. According to Virgilio Juvane, the National Director of Planning in the Education Ministry, it was mainly the shortage of schools and of teachers which led to that situation. The million children in question are aged between six and 13 and should, in principle, be studying in first and second level primary education (grades one to seven). Juvane furthermore said that the problem could only be overcome gradually by expanding the school network and training more teachers. Complicating matters was the "accumulated deficit of children who did not enter school in previous years, either for lack of space or because their parents did not enrol them in time".

Despite all the difficulties, many more children will be studying this year than in 2003. Thanks to the building of new schools last year, in 2004 the Ministry expects to enrol 731.000 children in first grade (which compares with the 685.000 places available last year). Furthermore, Juvane also stressed that many more teachers also had to be trained. The current teacher/pupil ratio in primary schools is one to 64 and the Ministry wants to bring that down to 50 pupils per teacher. This however requires money, not least to pay the teachers' wages, and the Mozambican government is under pressure from the IMF to cut back its wages bill. (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique)


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