September 8, 2006

Human Development Index improves / Professional education reform

Mozambique has continued to make significant gains in its human development index in recent years, according to the statistics presented in the latest National Human Development Report. The human development index (HDI) consists of three variables - life expectancy at birth, educational level (measured by the adult literacy rate, and the combined enrolment rate for primary, secondary and tertiary education) and real GDP per capita. The maximum possible value for the HDI is 1, and the latest global Human Development Report from UNDP ranks Norway as the most developed country with an HDI of 0.963. At the bottom of the pile is Niger with an HDI of just 0.281.
The Mozambican researchers have calculated Mozambique's HDI since the start of the millennium. It has risen from 0.366 in 2000, to 0.385 in 2001, 0.402 in 2002, 0.414 in 2003, and 0.428 in 2004. So the HDI has grown, on average, by about four per cent a year.
All the components of the HDI show improvement. Despite the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the report states that Mozambique's life expectancy at birth has risen from 44.3 years in 2000 to 46.7 years in 2004 - which reflects reductions in infant and child mortality.
The adult literacy rate rose from 43.3 per cent in 2000 to 46.4 per cent, which is the figure established by the 2002-03 household survey undertaken by the National Statistics Institute (INE). Given the continued expansion of literacy classes since 2003, the rate is likely to be rather higher now. As for the school attendance rate, the continued expansion of the school network has ensured that an ever increasing number of children are able to attend school. There was an average annual increase in enrolment of about 7.6 per cent between 2000 and 2004. But the sharpest improvement has been in real per capita GDP, which rose from 996.3 to 1,640.6 dollars between 2000 and 2004. That is an average growth of 9.2 per cent a year.
As in previous editions, this report breaks down the GDP by province - which shows that GDP growth has been very uneven, ranging from an average of 18.9 per cent a year in Maputo province (certainly due to the construction here of the country's largest factory, the MOZAL aluminium smelter) to just 5.4 per cent a year in the neighbouring province of Gaza.
A strong showing is also made by Inhambane, with an average growth of 11.5 per cent a year - due overwhelmingly to the exploitation of natural gas at Temane, and the building of the gas pipeline from Temane to South Africa.
Unlike the HDI, with the Human Poverty Index the higher the figure, the poorer the society in question is. In Mozambique the HPI has gradually fallen - from 55.9 in 1997, to 50.9 in 2000, to 48.9 in 2003 (the last year for which full figures were available when the report was written).
In the meantime, President Armando Guebuza has launched the government's Integrated Professional Education Reform Programme (PIREP). Guebuza called it "an important landmark in celebrating our commitment to constant improvement, with the interests of Mozambique and its people always at the centre of our attentions". The new programme envisages training by modules in courses of various lengths, which will make it possible to endow trainees with complementary skills inside and outside of formal schooling.
The programme is budgeted at 70 million US$, and is divided into a pilot phase, lasting until 2010, an experimental phase (2010-2015), and a consolidation phase (2015-2020). In the government's view, training by module introduces greater flexibility, so that technical and professional education can respond to the specific needs of the communities where this kind of educational institution is located. "Where we have forests, or conditions for fisheries and fish-farming, our training institutions must take these resources into account, and train people who are technically competent in the sustainable exploitation of this local wealth", said Guebuza. Through PIREP, he added, the government wanted people to receive the type of training that would make them useful to themselves and to society. Professional education, he insisted, should place on the labour market people who are able to participate in the creation of wealth that can generate further jobs for others. (Agencia de Informaciao der Mocambique, Maputo)

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