How can you learn to read and calculate if you cannot understand a word of what your teacher is saying? This used to be the situation in Mozambique. A total of 24 languages are spoken in the country. Only 13 per cent of the population speak Portuguese, the official language of Mozambique, as their mother tongue and more than half of the country’s residents do not have any knowledge of the language. Most of the children have to start school in a language that they do not know.
Finland has been extensively involved in the development of the Mozambican education sector. Finland has emphasized the right of all children to schooling, teaching in native languages, and educational equality. From 2017, all children in Mozambique have the right to receive the first two years of schooling in their own mother tongue. There has also been significant progress in other areas. Between 2002 and 2014, the proportion of six-year-olds starting primary education increased from 37 to more than 81 per cent. The number of comprehensive schools increased by 71 per cent and the number of teachers in them almost doubled. The number of girls receiving schooling is more than one million higher 2017 than ten years ago.
Photo: Hanna Öunap, graphics: Juho Hiilivirta