SomaliPress.com

Over 700,000 Mozambican Children Still Studying in Open Air

Published on Saturday 15th January 2011

Over 700,000 Mozambican children are currently studying in the open air, deprived of minimal conditions for learning. This is considered to be a situation that negatively affects their educational progress.

According to the Minister of Education, Zeferino Martins, there has been no improvement in the number of children being taught outside, a situation exacerbated by budget constraints at the Ministry of Education.

"Right now we have 700,000 students studying under the trees. We are concerned, but unfortunately the situation will continue due to the budget we have for this year", explained the Minister.

"I'm sad because we still have children studying in the open. But we would rather have to deal with that situation than forcing children stay at home", he stressed.

To solve the problem the Mozambican government introduced on an experimental basis the Accelerated School Infrastructure Construction Project in 2005. It was implemented across the country in the following year.

The Education Ministry believes that the project is the basis for achieving the Millennium Development Goals in the education sector, for the provision of decent classrooms for all children of school age by 2015.

However, this project has proved ineffective in solving the problem of the shortage of classrooms affecting both rural and urban areas.

Initially, the government expected to build six thousand classrooms per year, a goal that was never reached.

Since 2005 the government has only managed to build four thousand classrooms for primary schools.

The main reason is limited resources. To meet the target Mozambique would need to spend 72 million US dollars for the construction of six thousand rooms. This has forced the Ministry of Education to revise its target downwards.

Even with a more modest target, the government has been unable to meet its goal due to contractors' inability to complete the work on time.

The principle behind the Accelerated School Infrastructure Construction Project is to bring together communities and local contractors.

Under the project, the communities would gather local building materials such as bricks, stones and sand, while the contractors would be in charge of constructing the classrooms.

However, local contractors lack technical and financial capabilities. This is one reason why many classrooms fail to be completed on time, leaving a number of children studying in inadequate conditions.

The lack of teachers, due to budget constraints, is another major obstacle to the expansion of the education sector across the country.

Currently, Mozambique would need to hire at least 10,000 teachers to meet demand. This year, only 8,500 teachers will be hired, most of whom will teach in primary education, from first to seventh grade.

One of the consequences of a lack of teachers is that the existing teachers are forced to deal with a huge number of students.

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