Mozambique Education Survey Findings Spark Debate, Instill Sense of Urgency for Change

April 30, 2015


Results of a new Service Delivery Indicators on Education survey showed that many of Mozambique's students face socio-economic challenges which impact their school success. For example, of those surveyed, students who had breakfast scored 10% higher on the test than those who didn't.

Photo: Talea Miller/PBS NewsHour

  • As the country gets close to reaching its goal of 100% primary school enrollment, findings from a new survey detail the barriers to quality education in Mozambique
  • According to the data, gaps in teacher knowledge and teacher/student absenteeism are key contributors to the low-quality of education
  • The survey, supported by the World Bank Group and DFID, prompted a country-wide campaign against teacher and student absenteeism

MAPUTO, April 29, 2015 – The results of a recent survey shows that while most of Mozambique’s schools are endowed with basic necessities such as blackboards and textbooks, teachers’ ability and absenteeism contribute to an overall low quality of education.

The Service Delivery Indicators on Education (SDI) survey, supported by the World Bank Group and DFID, shows that of a nationally representative sample of 200 primary schools surveyed, 45% of teachers were not in school during an announced visit, while 11% of the teachers who were at school were not in the classroom teaching. Cumulating the sources of lost teaching time, the survey showed that out of 190 school days, students received a total of 74 effective teaching days. The survey data prompted Mozambique’s Ministry of Education and Human Development to launch a country-wide campaign against teacher absenteeism among both teachers and pupils.

“We are urging that teachers must be present, and on time, in the classroom, because only thus can we improve the teaching and learning process in our education system,” said Armindo Nguna, deputy education minister, during the campaign launch.

These findings were released during a high-level meeting convened by the Ministry of Education and Human Development and gathering all major decision makers and key stakeholders from the sector as well as representatives of teachers, parents, trade unions, CSOs, and partners. While the low-learning outcomes were known prior to the survey, as evidenced in the government’s own learning assessment, the SDI shed light on several key impediments to better quality education, including extremely low teacher knowledge and absenteeism. The results are being shared widely, and are contributing to build a strong momentum toward improving learning outcomes. They have been presented to various audiences via multiple means, at the initiative of the Ministry, the Bank, or CSOs. Personalities such as Graça Machel have commented on the results in the media. Such ownership and widespread dissemination by the country itself is suggestive of changes in mindset.

“While Mozambique is poised to meet the Millennium Development Goal of 100% primary education access -- by all means a laudable achievement – that achievement will be less significant if the quality of education is lacking,” said Mark Lundell, World Bank Country Director for Mozambique. “Such ownership and widespread dissemination of the survey results gives all stakeholders, including students and parents, the opportunity to invest in improving the system.”

The survey also assessed teachers’ competencies and found gaps between knowledge and teaching ability. According to the results, 1% of Grade 4 teachers mastered 80% of the Grade 4 curriculum they taught. For example, only 65% of mathematics teachers were able to successfully complete a double-digit subtraction problem, while 39% could successfully complete a subtraction problem with decimals.

While the country is reaching nearly 100% primary school enrollment, the survey also found that student absenteeism was at an average of 56%, and grade 4 students had the lowest performance in Portuguese, mathematics and non-verbal reasoning, compared to other countries surveyed. Forty-nine percent of pupils could add single digits (e.g. 7+8) and 5% could subtract double digits, according to the survey.

Most of those pupils surveyed were found to face serious socio-economic impediments. For instance, when compared to those who did not have breakfast, those who had breakfast before school scored 10% higher on the test, among other findings.

As set out in its three-year Operational Plan “Escola é Nossa,” the government aims at substantially changing dynamics at the school and classroom levels; improving the quality of teaching and learning; and strengthening school-based management. The upcoming World Bank Group-GPE operation [Additional Financing for the Mozambique Education Sector Support Project (ESSP)] is shaped around these priorities and will provide a unique platform to support change on the surveyed areas and beyond. In addition, government officials expressed support for a second survey in two years as part of their commitment to improve education by using the SDI as a policy monitoring instrument.

The SDI survey is part of an initiative under a partnership between the World Bank Group, the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) and the African Development Bank. The Mozambique SDI on Education survey was conducted by a team led by Ezequiel Molina and Gayle Martin, Economist and Senior Economist respectively with SDI Team, in close collaboration with Fadila Caillaud, Senior Economist and Team leader for the World Bank education portfolio in Mozambique and Bruno Besbas, Economist.