Maputo — The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Thursday unanimously passed the first reading of a government bill scrapping the current system of two stages of primary education.
Ever since 1983, primary schooling has been divided into first level and second level primary education (EP1 and EP2). EP1 covers first to fifth grades, and the same teacher takes the class for all subjects, in the curriculum.
EP2 covers sixth and seventh grades, and several teachers take the class, teaching them different subjects.
Introducing the bill, Education Minister Conceita Sortane said that access to EP2 was limited because of a lack of teachers.
Furthermore, schools teaching EP2 are often a long distance from those teaching EP1. These factors mean that many children are unable to continue their education after they have completed fifth grade.
The new bill abolishes the two levels, and introduces a system of primary education that covers first to sixth grade, and in all these grades the same teacher will take the class for all subjects. All primary schools must teach the first six grades, so it should no longer be necessary for any child to attend two schools to complete his primary education.
Seventh grade now becomes the first grade of secondary education. This is divided into two cycles - the first cycle runs from seventh to ninth grade, and the second from tenth to twelfth grade.
Education is obligatory up to ninth grade, and it is an obligation on parents or guardians to enrol their children in first grade in the year of their sixth birthday.
The first nine grades are also free of charge. Sortane said that, while school councils may decide to ask parents for money, these charges are voluntary, and the enrolment of children cannot be made dependent on paying any fees.
The language policy remains as it is today - primary education may be monolingual, in the country's official language, Portuguese, or bilingual, in the children's mother tongue and in Portuguese. Secondary education is taught in Portuguese.
The bill proved uncontroversial and passed unanimously.