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Last Updated: Friday, 16 September 2005, 07:58 GMT 08:58 UK
Mozambique's crowded classrooms
As the United Nations gathers to discuss anti-poverty measures, the BBC News website assesses how Africa could meet the Millennium Goals in 10 years' time. Here, Jose Tembe looks at education in Mozambique.

Children at a school in Mozambique
Most schools were destroyed and many teachers killed in the war

Of the 26 classrooms in Laulane Primary School in the Mozambican capital, Maputo - eight have no desks and no chairs.

"Our school is full to bursting point," says headmistress Ilda Wava

"Children are forced to study seated on the floor."

Since the end of Mozambique's 16-year civil war - in which most schools were destroyed and many teachers killed - the government has been working hard to expand its education network.

It says the number of primary schools have increased from 6,500 to nearly 9,000 in the last 13 years, allowing more than one million children to get a school place.

'Not perfect'

But the education system faces problems including shortages of schools, qualified teachers and textbooks.

Teacher Charles Jamisse in his classroom at a school in Mozambique
We lack enough teachers, which is the same problem for other schools
Teacher Charles Jamisse

"This school is the only one in this neighbourhood teaching all the seven primary school grades, which makes it practically impossible to absorb all local children of school-going age," says Ms Wava.

"We tried to double the number of pupils in each classroom, but many children continue to have no places."

Ms Wava also says the overcrowding has impacted on the performance of her pupils, and teachers.

"Our working conditions aren't perfect," admits English teacher Charles Jamisse.

"But we have essentials, our main problem is manpower - we lack enough teachers, which is the same problem for other schools."

Enthusiasm

Despite studying under difficult conditions, the students at the school are enthusiastic.

Schoolgirls in a classroom in Mozambique
Of course we have big challenges, one of which is to have more girls in schools
Education adviser Manuel Lobo

"I like studying because school is important for the future," says Almirante a schoolboy in standard six.

But Manuel Lobo, adviser to the minister of education, recognises the difficulties and says his ministry would like to do better.

"[However], at this point and with the current resources at the Ministry of Education, we think that we're doing our best in this area," he says.

He feels they are on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education by 2015.

"Of course we have big challenges, one of which is to have more girls in schools," Mr Lobo says.

"Also we would like to have more women working in teaching and as school heads."

Deadline

Michael Klaus, who works for the UN Children's Fund, one of Mozambique's education partners, says that taking into account the country's state in 1992 the level of reconstruction in the education sector is positive.

KEY UN TARGETS FOR 2015
Halve the number of people living on less than $1 a day
Halve the number of people without safe drinking water
Halve the number of people who suffer from hunger
Enable all children to complete primary school
Halt and reverse the spread of Aids and malaria

Despite this progress, he thinks there's no room for complacency.

"I think the country has gone quite far but really a lot needs to be done.

"An additional effort especially needs to be made to eliminate gender disparities in education."

And does he think the government will make the 2015 deadline?

"It's difficult to say, but from what we know it's more unlikely than likely," he says.




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