December 31, 2010

Government and religious bodies sign memorandum

The Mozambican government and religious denominations have signed a memorandum of principles to ensure a clear intervention by religious bodies in promoting education in the country. The exact content of this memorandum is unknown, since copies were not distributed to the press. Deputy Education Minister Augusto Jone signed for the government, and the ceremony was attended by representatives of the Mozambique Christian Council (the umbrella body for the mainstream protestant churches), the Islamic Council of Mozambique, two rival Islamic bodies, the Mohammedan Community and the Muslim Association, plus groups of Reformed and Independent Churches.

The Deputy Minister said that the agreement with the religious councils came at a time of the need to expand and improve the quality of education in the country. According to Jone, the agreement was a response to repeated Government appeals for greater participation of religious denominations in promoting education, with emphasis on civic and moral behaviour, especially of children and adolescents. "Humanity needs scientific tools to understand the world, but must know how to live in community with others. That is the main importance of this memorandum that we signed today", said Jone.

The director of special programs in the Education Ministry (MINED), Eurico Banze explained that the sector was concerned with access to education, through building good quality schools, which requires adequate construction materials. The issue of school management and equipping of technical schools also greatly concerned the education authorities. The religious bodes "can intervene in all these areas, but putting the agreement in practice will depend on the availability of religious denomination", said added.

There is no suggestion of introducing a religious element into the curriculum of state schools which would be clearly unconstitutional. The lay nature of the state, and the separation of the state from all religious bodies, is clearly stated in Article 12 of the constitution. (AIM)

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