Australia Awards Alumnus reshapes education in Mozambique

Education is one of the most important sectors in Mozambique. Since independence, the Government’s policy on education has been on-going policy. The Government considers education as one of three priorities for development and socioeconomic stability. The other two priorities are agriculture and health. As South Africa’s first democratic President said, Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Education is the key to eliminating gender inequality, to reducing poverty, to creating a sustainable planet, to preventing needless deaths and illness, and to fostering peace.

Mozambican Australia Awards Alumnus Manuel Chicamisse who studied a Masters of Public Health, at the University of Queensland in 2014 implements the knowledge, leadership and management skills learnt during his experience in Australia to bring change in Mozambique’s education sector. He uses activities which benefit marginalised people in different ways. “For instance, 40% of the total population of students are female in the country – our policies give priority to girls. We fight against harassment, teenage pregnancies and marriages in schools.

Manuel works in the Education Sector as the Director of Education and Human Development in Sofala province, in the Centre region of Mozambique. He currently works on programs that support vulnerable communities, such as the offer of fee-free primary education, free literacy programs for adults, support for persons living with disabilities such as dedicated schools which are sponsored by government and partner NGOs.

Manuel visiting Non Convention Classroom and meeting School Board and students at Matucudur Primary School.

Manual’s main tasks include enrolling children into schools, acquiring school materials, equipment and furniture, building new conventional schools and finally expanding education to remote rural areas. They also address challenges faced in developing countries through activities in which involve: nutrition programs, food production, sexual and reproductive health, fighting drug consumption, fighting obesity, and the prevention of STDs, HIV and AIDS. They implement these projects in all schools. However, the challenges for success differ in urban and rural areas.

Beira city, the capital of Sofala province, has an institute for people with visual impairment and a school of special education for deaf and dumb persons, as well as three secondary schools for inclusive education, says Manuel. “We are responsible for almost 512 500 students from primary to secondary school, which is a big responsibility but also a great opportunity to practice my knowledge as well as leadership and management skills that I learnt in Australia," says Manuel.

“Concrete results were achieved in 2015-2016. In this period, almost 94,000 children were enrolled in primary schools. They also distributed 1,122,100 official books to primary schools. The department employed 663 new. They also maintained 916 schools, built 39 new classrooms and acquired 9,500 new school desks. Lastly, they promoted 81.8% of total students, to the next level.”

He says that although they have had many achievements, they still face challenges such as a high student/teacher ratio in secondary school (the average is 65:1). There are still 70,232 students' without desks, and they conduct 691 classes under trees.

Graduating new teachers for primary School at ADPP School Teachers of Future in Nhamatanda District.

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