Girls' Education Gaining Strength in Mozambique

Teen pregnancy creates an immense burden for young girls and their families. Young mothers face a host of immense challenges that derail the normal course of their lives.

In Mozambique, the issue is particularly challenging and complex. The country has one of the world's highest rates of adolescent fertility, with 46 percent of all young women between the ages of 15 and 19 having already given birth or are pregnant. These young women often drop out of school abruptly to care of their children, foregoing their chance for a better life.

To help support young Mozambican women in coping with or avoiding early motherhood, the Nikhalamo project was developed (nikhalamo in the Chuabo language of Mozambique translates to "I am here to stay"). The initiative is being implemented by the local Mozambican organization ADPP Mozambique in collaboration with Girl Child Rights. It is funded by USAID and Planet Aid.

Nikhalamo has been working with 18 primary schools and 3 secondary schools and has assisted nearly 3,000 girls and young women. It is working to improve the learning opportunities for these women by helping them obtain an exemption for school registration fees and providing them with needed school supplies and uniforms. The project is also addressing the problem of forced marriages in the community and building preschools.

"Women represent a majority in the world; therefore, educating girls is a strong contribution to the development of a society."

—U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique, Dean Pittman, from a speech at the inauguration of the Nikhalamo-built community preschool at Malinguine.

The project has constructed 16 community preschools in Zambezia Province. These preschools are not only helping to provide much needed early education in the region, but are offering young mothers the opportunity to stay in school themselves and feel secure that their children are being taken care of while they attend class.

One of the 16-year-old young mothers, named Isabel, was able to go back to school and enroll in the sixth grade at her local primary school. She was able to do so because of a new preschool opened by the Nikahalmo project, which provided her a safe space for her child.

Today, three years later, she is in grade 10 and will be taking her examinations for entry to grade 11.

"I have learned a lot from other girls, the Girl Education Promoters and the Girl Mentors about the importance of staying in school," she said. "I have to complete my secondary school education and find a job."

Read more about Planet Aid's support of youth education.