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More children are attending school today than five years ago, but great challenges remain

© UNICEF Mozambique
Primary school attendance has increased, but secondary school attendance has decreased over the period from 2003 to 2008.

MAPUTO, Mozambique, 3 May 2011 – According to the forthcoming 2010 ‘Child Poverty and Disparities Study’, disparities have been narrowing in primary education in Mozambique, whereas progress in secondary education has been slow. Approximately 3.3 million of Mozambique’s 4.1 million children aged 6-12 were attending primary school, equivalent to a net attendance rate of 81 per cent, in 2008. The attendance rate in secondary school remains low, however; only 20 per cent of children aged 13-17 were attending secondary school in the same period, and almost half of children that age are still attending primary school.

There is no significant difference in primary and secondary school attendance between boys and girls. The gender gap in primary school has narrowed, and the gap also improved in secondary school. Long-standing discrepancies in children’s school attendance between urban and rural areas, and between the richest and the poorest households, have also been reduced. Although gaps remain, rural and poorer children saw a greater increase in net attendance rates in recent years than urban and better-off children, at both primary and secondary levels.

© UNICEF Mozambique
The gender gap in school attendance has narrowed, but other disparities persist, especially at the secondary school level.

According to a regression analysis that was conducted to analyze the variables affecting primary school attendance in Mozambique, the education of the mother is one of the most important factors. Household wealth is also positively correlated to attendance. Given the relatively large proportion of children who start school late, the age of a child has a positive relationship with primary school attendance, although dropouts start from age 10.

Furthermore, a child with a disability is 40 per cent less likely to be attending primary school than a non-disabled child. In terms of geographical differences, rural children have a slightly lower probability of attending school than urban children, and children living in the northern provinces have a higher probability of dropping out than children in the south.

In 2003, there were 1.5 million children not attending primary school, but five years later that number had been cut in half. For secondary school attendance, however, a reverse trend can be observed. The number of 13-17 year olds out of school appears to have increased between 2003 and 2008 from 31 per cent to 36 per cent. At the same time, inequity is more pronounced at the secondary level and has increased in recent years. Access for children in the bottom three quintiles remains extremely low. The gap between the secondary school net attendance ratio of the richest and the poorest children increased from 21 per cent in 2003 to 46 per cent in 2008, suggesting a large gap opening and expanding between rich and poor families.

For more information, please contact:

Arild Drivdal, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email:

Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email:




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