The Mozambican 2010 school year began with a further 1,200 new classrooms coming into operation, many fewer than was planned.
According to the spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Eurico Banze, of this number 1,137 classrooms are for basic primary education and the rest for secondary education.
Banze said that this year there are 425 new first level primary education (EP1) schools, and 407 second level primary (EP2) schools.
Three technical and professional schools will open, two at basic level and one at mid-level. There are 67 new secondary schools – 45 for the first cycle of secondary education and 22 for the second cycle.
Since 2005 the Education Ministry has been implementing an Accelerated School Building Programme, with the purpose of ensuring access to basic education for all children of school age by 2015 (this is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals, approved by the United Nations at its Millennium summit in 2000).
Under this programme, by the end of 2008, 2,900 classrooms had been built across the country, with houses for the teachers and other complementary infrastructures. However, this number is miserably small when compared with the programme’s target, which is to build 45,000 new classrooms by 2015.
Initially, the Ministry envisaged the construction of 6,000 classrooms a year. However, the target was cut to 1,400 a year due to the difficulties in obtaining building materials and skilled labour.
The project seeks to use alternative materials and technologies, with controlled costs. It is supposed to rely on local contractors, NGOs and communities to plan and carry out the building work.
Although more children are attending school than ever before in the country’s history, a sizeable minority are still excluded due to lack of sufficient places, and lack of teachers. This year it is estimated that over 200,000 children will be unable to attend school because of such problems.