Education - The picture
Over the past number of years, the opportunities for children to go to school have improved considerably in Mozambique. In absolute terms, the number of children in lower primary grades rose from 1.7 million in 1997 to 2.8 million in 2003. During this period, the school network grew substantially, with the number of lower primary schools increasing from 6,114 in 1998 to 8,077 in 2003. The net enrollment rate for lower primary grades (EP1 - grades 1 to 5) reached 69% in 2003 compared to 44% in 1997.
However, the numbers of teachers did not increase proportionally. This led to an increase of the teacher-pupil-ratio to 1:66 in EP1 from 1:61 in 1997. The proportion of unqualified teachers has also risen from 30 percent in 1997 to 42 percent in 2003. The quality of teaching is closely linked to the availability, competence and morale of teachers, who continue to face serious problems, including low salaries, lack of an adequate pedagogical support and teaching materials.
And the HIV/AIDS pandemic has a high impact on the teaching cadre, too. It is estimated that between 2002 and 2006 about 2,700 teachers will be lost to HIV/AIDS.
Due to the very low quality of education, drop out rates are high and completion in primary schools remains well below the regional average and hinders progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Education for All (EFA) and, more broadly, a sustained reduction in poverty. In 2003, only 38.7 per cent of children starting school managed to pass the exam after grade 5.
Despite progress in increasing the overall enrollment, large disparities remain when it comes to gender equity. The enrollment rate for boys stood at 72.4% in 2003 compared to 66.4 % for girls. There are many reasons behind gender disparity in education. Some families do not place enough importance on the girls’ education. Families in poorer families tend to choose to keep the girls at home to help with domestic work or to assist with income generation.
Another contributing factor is the often long distance to the next school; the average is 4.5 km. Schools in general are not girl-friendly or even safe. Many schools do not have a water supply or separate toilets for girls, and girls are at risk of sexual abuse on their way to school as well as once in school.
Poor children in general are less likely to be enrolled in school because they often need to work to survive, cannot afford school costs or live far away from schools. Children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS are particularly at risk of dropping out of school.