Supporting Young Women's Education in Mozambique


We are excited to engage in an innovative and long-term educational partnership with the prestigious, Maputo-based Lurdes Mutola Foundation. We have dedicated a three-year grant to the new Mais Escola para Mim ("More School for Me") program, the objective of which is to increase the number of girls and young women who graduate from secondary schools in Mozambique, particularly in rural parts of the country.

Active through 2010, our grant goes towards scholarship fees for the girls selected for the program; it covers the salaries of the dedicated female social workers who work with them and liaise between the Mutola Foundation and the schools; and it also contributes to continued foundation research into girls' rural education, to be gathered and developed into recommendations for national policy making. This pilot program has the potential to change the lives of the young women involved, as well as provide a successful model for the educational empowerment of women in African rural communities.

Background

The scholarship program aims to address broad gender disparities in education in Mozambique, as in many developing countries, especially in Africa. Better access to quality secondary and higher education is a must for responsible development.

Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the world, and it is ranked 10th lowest in the world on the Human Development Index.

Mozambique's potential for development rests heavily on the improvement of education for its youth--54 percent of Mozambicans are aged 19 or under (INE 2005). However, of the roughly 10.5 million school-aged children in Mozambique, less than 4.5 million are enrolled in school. Even more startlingly, less than half of the students who enroll in primary school stay in school long enough to begin secondary school, and less than one percent graduate from 12th grade (INE 2005).

These figures are significantly more extreme for girls: though girls and boys enroll in 1st grade in a roughly equal ratio, only 43 percent of 8th grade students in 2006 were girls, and by 12th grade only 37 percent were girls. Girls are significantly more likely to drop out of school than boys (INE 2006).

The aggregate effect of this trend is that women in Mozambique are far less educated than men. The national literacy rate for women is 39 percent, compared to 65 percent for men. In rural areas, only 3 to 23 percent of women are literate, depending on their age group (Handa et al 2004, 5).


The Lurdes Mutola Foundation

Founded by Olympic gold-medal winning runner Maria Mutola, the Lurdes Mutola Foundation aims to bring more young Mozambicans to sports and to assist in helping them achieve their sporting and educational potential. The Foundation has worked with the national Ministry of Health and UNICEF on a national immunization campaign against measles and polio and on housing development initiatives in Maputo. The Foundation began its activities in 2002 by making small grants to athletes, hosting conferences and workshops, and finding a way to get the busy Maria Mutola to participate in activities, and has since expanded its range of programs and budget. The Foundation maintains a strong emphasis on the empowerment of young women through education and sport.

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