UNICEF correspondent Guy Hubbard reports on a Child-Friendly Schools initiative reaching across several districts of Mozambique.
Child-Friendly Schools Initiative in Mozambique Guy Hubbard: It’s a typical day at Chinese primary school, kids sit at desks with books and pens, teachers teach using blackboards and chalk. It’s typical scene here but an anomaly in the Mozambique. This primary school is one of 750 schools in seven districts of the country that are part of the child-friendly school initiative. The initiative aims through a teacher training improved school infrastructure and facilities, health interventions and community involvement to improve the quality of education. The aim is to keep more than 300,000 primary aged to children in the classroom until they graduate. It’s a response to an education system in which there are too few schools. First that they are, are over crowded, black train teachers, adequate school buildings and facilities including latrines, desks, teaching materials and recreational equipment. So all the countries almost universal enrolment but also its incredibly high dropout and failure rates. Anjana Mangalagiri: While we may have about 99.2 % of enrolment at primary education, we still have about less than 50% of children completing primary school and about 15% of children complete secondary lower secondary and less than 4% complete higher secondary education. Guy Hubbard: Alongside teaching materials and skills, health and hygiene are key components of the child-friendly schools approach. Separate latrines for boys and girls have been built. This alone has had an impact in the number of girls dropping out of school as they reach puberty. Teachers have been trained to recognize heath problems and school health packages provide students with immunizations, dental care, eye care and health education. And to keep them healthy and build their confidence, physical education is the order of the day. Girls rule in volleyball and skipping and they are now even breaking down the barriers to take on the boys in football. The boys themselves are also learning new games becoming the undisputed hula-hoop champions. All the children age between 10 and 14 are encouraged to join school clubs where they can work through problems and are better equipped to deal with issues like violence, sexual abuse and HIV. For children who have lost their parents, support is given to nature they have their uniforms and books they need to stay in school. Four years in the child-friendly school, initiative is already reaping the desired results. Dropout rates are dropped below the national average and retention rates have risen. Pedro Macamo: There is definitely an improvement in terms of the quality of education that is being provided here including the capacity that the school now has to absorb more children. For example, this year we were able to introduce the sixth grade which we didn’t have before and now we think we’re ready to introduce the 7th grade next year so that the whole primary school is complete. Guy Hubbard: The key indicator past rates have also risen in the selected districts but around three times the national average. Children here are starting to get the quality education and are looking to the future. Phumzile Nkavele: I think school is important because many pupils they like to learn and me I like to learn and then we learn in the school and we can go to college altogether. Guy Hubbard: This is Guy Hubbard reporting for UNICEF Television. For more information go to UNICEF.org, Unite for Children.