Mozambique readies to reopen schools

By Dumisani Sigogo

Mozambique’s phased reopening of schools programme has finally been boosted by the injection of the much needed financial support to distribute  free personal protective equipment (PPE) to students and teachers.

The Ministry of Education and Human Development (MINEDH) said the financial support has enabled it to procure essential protective items such as masks and that the funds will also assist schools to implement sanitation and other coronavirus prevention measures.

For the first time since March, Grade 12 students will return to school on the 27th of July signaling the start of the long anticipated reopening of schools. The overall resumption process is expected to roll out over three phases.

The MINEDH said preparations for the schools reopening are already at an advanced stage and that money is already being distributed to schools under a package called COVID-19 (Direct Support for Schools – ADE COVID-19)

Speaking to journalists MINEDH spokesperson, Gina Guibunda who could not disclose the funding figures said: “It is from this money that the masks will be purchased as well as hygiene and cleaning materials in all schools.”

On how the ADE money will be distributed among the schools Guibunda explained that it will be 125 meticais per student multiplied by the number of students at a school.

Conceding that the education ministry could not ascertain the number of how many schools that were full ready for reopening, she said a number of schools still lacked the necessary conditions but a good number of them were prepared to reopen.

“But there is still no school that we can declare to be prepared, since the independent commission has not yet done its verifications,” she said.

The MINEDH spokeswoman also revealed that 322  schools teach Grade 12 classes and that some subjects such as Physical Education, Agriculture and Entrepreneurship would be suspended for longer because more physical contact is involved.

In order to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19, Radio Mozambique reported that Águas da Região Maputo (ADeM) is working with the government to improve the regular water supply capacity in schools and teacher training institutes in the cities of Maputo and Matola.

The date for the resumption of face-to-face classes in other grades, will depend on the success of the Grade 12 classes.

Earlier this month, under the Global Partnership for Education, UNICEF, UNESCO, and other partners mobilized US$15 million to  enforce healthy, clean environs on school grounds and make social distancing in classrooms a possibility.

According to UNICEF, Mozambique is one of the 191 countries that closed schools because of Covid-19 and only 40% of schools in the country are estimated to have created the necessary hygienic and sanitized conditions.