Maputo — Ireland has promised to grant five million Euros (5.9 million US dollars) to support the implementation of Mozambique's Education Sector Strategic Plan between 2021/2029, through the Education Sector Support Fund (FASE).
For this purpose, the Minister of Education, Carmelita Namashulua, and the Chargé d'affairs at the Irish Embassy in Mozambique, Niall Tierney, signed on Wednesday a financing agreement in the framework of the existing Memorandum of Cooperation between the two countries.
Speaking shortly after the signing ceremony, Namashulua said "we are pleased to confirm that Ireland will finance FASE in the framework of the Education Strategic Plan 2020/29 with five million Euros this year," adding that Ireland's continuing involvement reflects the solidarity of the Irish people, and helps promote Mozambique's development.
The Irish financial support, said the minister, comes at a time marked, not only by the implementation of the Education Strategic Plan 2020/21 but also by the return of children to secondary schools, especially those who will sit for the 10th and 12th grade exams.
"The school reopening comes in the context of the emerging challenges for the sector, as result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which have worsened the lack of financial resources for education," added the minister.
Namashulua said Mozambique has often been faced with overcrowding where in certain cases there would be up to 90 children in the same classroom, which hampers the necessary social distancing. There are pupils still studying under the trees, she admitted, but with financial support the situation will gradually be overcome.
She also pointed out that Mozambique is still struggling to reduce its high illiteracy levels, and to promote an inclusive and non-discriminatory education to all schoolchildren.
In the northern province of Cabo Delgado, she added, tens of thousands of people have fled their homes because of terrorist attacks. In Sofala and Manica, in the central region, attacks by the self-styled "Renamo Military Junta" have also displaced women, children and elderly people.
"We have to ensure that children in the affected areas have similar learning conditions to those in parts of the country where the situation is normal," said Namashulua.
Niall Tierney said that, although his country is not the education sector's main sponsor, he hoped to see the financial contribution changing the country's future. Over the last 17 years of cooperation between the nations, Ireland has disbursed 118 million US dollars to assist Mozambique.