Maputo — Terrorist raids have destroyed 104 schools in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado, almost 12 per cent of the 900 schools in the province, according to the Provincial Directorate of Education.
The directorate said that 168,639 pupils have been displaced by the terrorists, known locally as "Al Shabaab", and who boast affiliation to the self-styled "Islamic State". Also among those displaced from their homes are 1,623 teachers from various levels of education, at least seven of whom are known to have lost their lives during the attacks.
Education Directorate representative Manuel Bacar, speaking on Thursday during a webinar on "Implications of the Armed Attacks for Education in Cabo Delgado", said that Mocimboa da Praia, Palma, Quissanga and Muidumbe are the districts most affected by attacks against schools.
Bacar added that a further 194 schools in Cabo Delgado have not been able to start the 2021 school year, because of the lack of security in those parts of the province.
Nonetheless he expressed confidence in the efforts made by the defence and security forces in the fight against terrorism, which had made it possible to rebuild 149 temporary classrooms, and to distribute learning kits to the displaced pupils.
"We are pleased because we are seeing an attempt to return to normality", said Bacar. "Although challenges remain, education in Cabo Delgado is functioning. The government is doing all it can, together with its partners, to make more classrooms available".
The safest areas, he added, are the provincial capital, Pemba, and Chiure and Montepuez districts. Hence most of the displaced pupils are in those areas, where they are able to attend classes free of any kind of threat.
The province's education plans for this year, he added, include building at least 2,000 new classrooms, and hiring 591 new teachers.
Meanwhile, frightened families are continuing to flee from Palma district and head for Pemba. Another ship full of these internally displaced people arrived in Pemba on Wednesday night. According to the independent television station STV, the authorities refused, quite illegally, to allow journalists to photograph the arrival of the displaced, and did not even say how many people were on board the ship.
Some of the displaced told STV that hundreds of people remain in Quitunda, about 15 kilometres from Palma town, hopeful that another ship will arrive and take them to Pemba.
A 15 year old girl called Faiza Kibuana told reporters "A lot of people want to leave Palma and they are concentrated in Quitunda. When a boat arrives people fight to get a place on board".
She said there are now serious food shortages in Quitunda "and what's worse, the hospital isn't open and people are dying of disease".