Mozambique: Government Reviving Distance Learning

Maputo — The Mozambican government and its partners intend to revive the distance learning system so as to meet the challenges posed by the long distances that separate potential pupils from the nearest school, and the shortage of school places.

Speaking in the southern city of Matola on Monday, at the opening of a workshop to harmonise the instruments guiding distance learning, the Deputy Education Minister, Armindo Ngunga, said "Nobody should be left behind, regardless of the lack of places, or of distance. For us the solution is distance learning".

Ngunga said that the government's Education and Human Development Strategic Plan continues to regard distance learning as a strong strategy in the battle to expand educational opportunities and to improve the quality of education.

The new law on the National Education System (SNE), passed by the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, unanimously last week, recommends a restructuring of the instruments that guide distance learning programmes for primary and secondary education.

Implementation of the new law means that the government will have to adopt creative mechanisms to ensure access to education in a context where the demand for secondary education is outstripping the supply of secondary school classrooms.

"The intention of the new law on the SNE is to guarantee access to education for all", said Ngunga. "Secondary education will be under pressure and we think that distance learning will be a viable alternative".

Introduced as a pilot scheme in 2014, distance learning has been growing in popularity, and currently over 35,000 pupils who, for whatever reason, cannot be physically present in a classroom, are benefitting from this form of education.

An alternative way of overcoming the shortage of places in secondary schools is through night courses. But Ngunga thought that distance learning was a much better option than night courses.

"From the studies we have held, we have reached the conclusion that the government is wasting money on night courses", he said. "The pupils don't appear at the classes. And when they do appear, they arrive late and leave early. Often the teachers are alone in the classrooms".

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