Maputo — The Mozambican government expects to complete within 90 days the building work necessary to make it possible to reopen the country's 667 secondary schools and 15 of the 27 teacher training colleges without a major risk of spreading the Covid-19 respiratory disease among the student population.
To this end the government will disburse about 3.5 billion meticais (about 50 million US dollars) to cover the costs of building and rehabilitating water and sanitation facilities in the schools.
The National Director of Water and Sanitation in the Ministry of Public Works, Nilton Trindade, told a Maputo press conference on Tuesday, that the actions to be undertaken result from the decision by the government that the Ministry should direct a range of actions intended to ensure that all the schools are equipped with decent water and sanitation infrastructures.
To speed matters up, and given the urgency of the work, the interventions have been divided into 25 groups, each covering, an average of 25 to 30 schools. There will be no public tendering. Instead the contracts will be awarded directly, as allowed for in emergency situations.
The National Director of School Infrastructures in the Education Ministry, Filipe Nguenha, told the press conference that 154 of the secondary schools have problems with their water supply, with their sanitation system or with both. The other 513 have minor problems. Most of them will undergo some form of intervention.
Those schools that have no water supply at all will be connected to the public water network, said Nguenha. If the schools are a long way from the public network, either the network will be extended to reach them, or boreholes for water supply will be drilled.
The 90 day period for the construction or rehabilitation work begins as from the date on which the building companies sign the contract.
This is a tacit acceptance that no secondary schools will re-open on 27 July, as the government had initially planned.
On 28 June, when he announced that the State of Emergency would be extended throughout July, President Filipe Nyusi spoke of a phased re-opening of schools, starting with 12th grade (the pre-university classes) in the secondary schools on 27 July. But, after protests from parents, this idea has now been dropped.
Nguenha admitted that the Education Ministry has not yet fixed any alternative date for the resumption of classes.