Maputo — South Korea plans to invest up to 15 million US dollars in supporting a programme to improve the quality of basic education in Mozambican schools.
Speaking to reporters during a meeting in Maputo on Wednesday to discuss the programme, the Director of Planning and Cooperation in the Ministry of Education, Manuel Rego, said it will cost between 14 and 15 million dollars, to be financed by the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).
The main objective of the programme, said Rego, is to develop schools so that they become more autonomous, and can provide pupils with professional skills that prepare them for an ever more demanding labour market.
"The initiative covers teacher training, the building and rehabilitating of schools, equipping classrooms, and providing pupils with school material - all to make schools more agreeable, and without neglecting their links with the community", added Rego.
Rego said there has been some progress in recent years in improving the quality of education, as measured by drop-out, repeat and conclusion rates. Thus today about 50 per cent of the pupils who enroll in first grade conclude seventh grade within seven years - thus without repeating a single year.
Previously, the majority of pupils dropped out. Rego attributed the improvement to better teacher training, to the free distribution of school textbooks, and to the rehabilitation of schools.
"Drop-out rates are linked to various social and cultural factors, notably poverty", Rego said. "There is also the habit of parents pulling children out of school to work on the fields during sowing time".
Rego said this is the second project the Ministry has implemented with Korean cooperation. The first was the construction of four technical and professional institutes. One of these, in Maputo, is intended solely to training mechanics in the maintenance of motor vehicles. Each of the institutes will teach 500 to 600 students a year.