Number of years spent at school tripled in Mozambique – the development needs of the education sector have not disappeared

Ministry for Foreign Affairs 4.10.2019 10.04
News item

In Mozambique, more and more children start comprehensive school, the school network has been expanded, the number of girls in schools has grown and there are more teachers. However, much work is still needed for reforming the education sector. Finland has long been involved in supporting the development of the education sector in Mozambique.

The picture depicts tree first graders sitting in a classroom in a comprehensive school in the Macia District in Mozambique. First grader Ana attends a comprehensive school in the Macia District in Mozambique. Photo: Erja-Outi Heino.

Developing the education sector is one of the most important ways of reducing poverty in Mozambique. Of the southern African countries, Mozambique invests most of its public expenditure in the education sector – around one fifth of the state budget. Finland has supported Mozambique's education sector since 1997 and joined the Education Sector Support Fund (FASE) in 2003, through which funds are channelled to the country's basic education (grades 1-7), secondary education (grades 8-12) and teacher training.

More pupils and female teachers in Mozambique's comprehensive schools

According to UNDP, the expected length of the school career of a Mozambican pupil has tripled from 3.7 to 9.7 years in less than 20 years. The number of children having started school has also doubled over the past 20 years. According to the statistics of the World Bank, nearly 90 per cent started comprehensive school in 2017.

In addition, the number of pupils in basic education grew by 7.1 per cent in 2018 compared to 2017. In 2017, around 6.12 million pupils were studying in basic education, while the corresponding figure was about 6.56 million pupils in 2018. Therefore, basic education reached 420,000 more pupils.

In addition to the increase in the length of the school career and the number of children starting comprehensive school, the growing number of female teachers is counted as a success in the development of the education sector in Mozambique. For example, the number of female teachers grew in 2018 in all levels compared to 2017, except for grades 10–12.

Much development still needed in the quality of teaching and completion of studies

Teacher training and continuing professional education exceeded the quantitative targets set for them, but the quality and implementation of education are assessed as inadequate. This problem is to be addressed by reforming the selection criteria for teachers and teacher students in teacher education institutions and by strengthening the capacity of teacher education institutions’ managers and educators. 

Furthermore, the number of pupils who have dropped out of comprehensive school gives cause for concern. Although examined in the long term, more and more pupils complete comprehensive school, the number of dropouts is still high.

According to the World Bank, the number of pupils completing comprehensive school nearly quadrupled from 16 to 57 per cent between 2000 and 2010. In 2017, however, only 46 per cent of the pupils completed comprehensive school. Thus, the number of pupils completing comprehensive school has fallen in the 2010s. According to UNDP, the number of comprehensive school drop-outs was 66.8 per cent in 2016–2017. In other words, over one-half of those having started comprehensive school dropped out of their studies.

Recommendations for strengthening capacities and prioritising girls’ access to school

The bodies funding the Mozambique education sector recommend that the capacities are strengthened on all levels of the Ministry of Education. Girls’ access to school, learning and staying at school should also be prioritised more than at present. In addition, it would be useful to build a deeper understanding of gender equality, disability and the effects of geographical location on the development of the education sector.

Finland supports the development work of the Mozambican education sector through the Education Sector Support Fund FASE, to which Finland allocated EUR 8 million in 2018. Finland accounts for around 11 per cent of the Fund's total share, which makes Finland the second largest bilateral donor for the Fund.