Mozambique: Nampula Parents Worried About School Reopening

Maputo — Nampula (Mozambique), 15 Jul (AIM) - Parents of secondary school students in the northern Mozambican city of Nampula are worried about the reopening of schools, scheduled to begin on 27 July, because of overcrowding in classes, and the safety of their children on the journey between home and school.

They raised these concerns at a meeting on Monday between Nampula provincial governor Manuel Rodrigues and parents and guardians, held at the governor's request to discuss details about the resumption of classes.

In late March, the government ordered the closure of all schools, as part of the drive to hold back the spread of the coronavirus that causes the Covid-19 respiratory disease. Schools will be gradually reopened, as from 27 July, starting with the 12th (pre-university) grade in secondary schools, and teacher training courses.

Teachers who spoke to AIM in Nampula said they were annoyed that they had not been consulted before the government announced the resumption of 12th grade classes on 27 July. They also protested at the alarmingly large size of some classes.

"There's an average of 100 pupils in a small classroom, and this worried me", said one parent, Ussene Martins. "We want the pupils to return to school, but we are alarmed. So together we are going to arrange prevention measures".

Mariamo Atumane, the chairperson of the Council of Parents of the Nampula Secondary school, was also worried about large classes.

"Our main concern, as parents, is that there are a lot of pupils and we hope that enough taps will be installed so that the pupils are able to wash their hands repeatedly, as recommended", he said. "We are not against reopening the schools. Indeed, that's already been decided, although they did not ask us for our opinion first. But we want the hygiene measures to be strengthened. We want our children to come back home healthy, and we want the final year students to go on to university, and not to hospital or to the morgue".

Evangelina Antonio, chairperson of the School Council at the 12th October Secondary School, lamented the lack of prior consultation about reopening the schools and called for tight control on the school premises.

"We don't have much to say. We just received the instruction, but I recall that we are consultative bodies", she said. "We note that there are many gaps, and there are only a few days left to establish the necessary conditions before the reopening".

At the 12th October school, "We have water, but the greatest problem is the toilets, particularly for the boys. We would also like control in the school yard, so that the pupils comply with social distancing".

This year Nampula province enrolled over 1.55 million pupils in primary and secondary education. There are 2,327 schools in the province, only 54 of which are secondary schools. The average number of pupils to a class is 80.

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