Maputo — The Mozambican government announced on Tuesday that the re-opening of schools, closed since March because of the Covid-19 pandemic, will begin on 27 July - but only for the 12th (pre-university) grade of secondary education, and for teacher training colleges.
Furthermore, schools (whether publicly or privately owned) will only be allowed to re-open if they meet the hygiene conditions required to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Just 170 public secondary schools (out of a total of 667) and 19 out of 27 teacher training colleges currently meet the conditions for reopening on 27 July.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), the government spokesperson, Deputy Justice Minister Filimao Suaze, said that there will be interventions in water supply and sanitation in all schools deemed not to meet the required hygiene conditions for reopening.
That programme of improvements is budgeted at 3.5 billion meticais (about 50 million US dollars), financed by the state budget and by the government's international partners. It will be implemented over three months.
The first phase, according to the Minister of Public Works, Joao Machatine, will cover all 667 schools that offer 12th grade, 27 teacher training colleges and 157 boarding homes. "This is the universe we shall tackle in the first phase", he said. "The work will consist of rehabilitating the water supply systems, as well as the bathrooms that are obsolete".
The second phase will consist of more far-reaching construction and rehabilitation. Since this is an emergency programme, there will be no public tenders. Instead the government will hire the contractors directly. Only Mozambican building companies with proven technical capacity will be eligible.
"The interventions will be undertaken in 10 batches, of which four are for new constructions", said Machatine.
He estimated that this work in the schools will create 6,700 jobs - 6,000 in the construction phase, and 700 in maintenance.
Machatine said the needs have been identified for 4,627 primary schools out of a total of 12,932. A survey of the needs of the remaining 8,305 schools should be undertaken in the next ten days.
As for reopening churches and other places of worship, Suaze said that only those that meet the conditions specified by the government may resume their activities. This list of conditions includes the use of masks, social distancing, and facilities for believers to wash their hands frequently.