Poverty is the defining factor of Mozambican children’s lives. Fewer than half finish primary school. We’ve put early childhood development at the heart of our work – so that children get the right start.
“[Save the Children’s work] is a model for Mozambique and possibly the rest of Africa” - Mozambique’s Minister for Education
Nine-year-old Lucia would like to be a teacher, but each day that she goes to school is a matter of luck and determination.
For two years she cared for her mother, until Cecilia died two months after this photo was taken. Now in the first grade, Lucia goes to school as much as she can, but she has to work to survive.
Fewer than half of Mozambique’s children now in first grade will finish grade 5.
Their cognitive development, their ability to solve problems, and their social and emotional skills are all crippled by poverty.
No matter how hard they try, children like Lucia are held back.
That’s why we’ve put early childhood development at the heart of our work in Mozambique – so that children get the right start.
- Mozambique has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, but while a tiny number of people are getting richer, the majority lives on an average of $465 a year.
- 700,000 children are not in school.
- We're aiming to reach 1 million children in 2012 through our education work.
42% of children in Gaza province are stunted, half show serious delays in critical thinking, and a quarter show delays in communication and fine motor skills.
A 2009 study found children in grades 1-3 in Gaza were able to read just three words a minute. Less than half could write their names. Nationwide, not even half of children complete primary school.
“There’s not enough family income to buy school books or clothe them so they can go to school,” says Mozambique country director John Grabowski. “Just about all families can manage is to feed their children.”
To help children in a way that is lasting requires a concerted, integrated approach. This is the strength of our programme and the reason we believe that we will be able to help a million children in the year ahead.
What we’ve achieved
More than a tenth of young people are HIV-positive. Our hundreds of community “activists” provide the vital care and support they need, from helping them get anti-retroviral drugs to providing food and care.
“The activists visit me every day,” 10-year-old Dino told us. “They help me take my medicine and check if I am well enough to go to school.”
Early childhood development
In a country in which nursery schools are for the rich, we’ve established 56 early childhood development centres and reached more than 8,000 children in Gaza.
A World Bank study of this work found that our approach works. The centres achieved:
- a dramatic rise in school enrolment and attendance
- a far greater aptitude for writing and problem-solving in the children, with an increased interest in maths
- a sharp reduction in the numbers of children working instead of going to school.
Based in part on this project, Mozambique is now developing a national policy for early childhood development, with World Bank support.
In 2010, we built 73 new classrooms and 71 playgrounds for 3,500 children, trained 2,400 teachers and improved 50,000 children’s reading and writing.
Our model of newborn care and community participation has contributed to the Ministry of Health’s strategy for newborns, and we are helping it roll out its newborn health package to 20% of the country.
What’s urgent now
We’re aiming to set the agenda for early childhood education nationwide, by working with the government and establishing early childhood programmes in some of the poorest provinces.
We want to lift tens of thousands of Mozambique’s families out of profound poverty, and reach nearly 3 million Mozambicans by the end of 2012.