Imagine trying to learn in a makeshift mud classroom that floods every time it rains — or having no classroom at all, only a spot under a tree.
Many students in Mozambique face overcrowding and lack of infrastructure. More than half of girls drop out of school by grade five. Among students who finish primary school, nearly two-thirds leave the system without basic reading, writing and math skills.
Recently The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the nonprofit organization No Poor Among Us replaced makeshift classrooms in underprivileged schools with brick-and-mortar buildings, helping 2,340 students have space to study and overcome barriers to their education, reported the Church’s Africa Newsroom.
No Poor managing director Josh Phillips — who served a mission for the Church in Mozambique — said one of the schools they assisted was Magude Primary School. “The kids at the primary school were learning in a mud school,” said Phillips. “Every time it rained the school would fall and the school would have to rebuild. As a result, the students lost more than half of their school days, every year.”
The Church was able to replace the makeshift buildings with brick-and-mortar classrooms, and build bathrooms as well, reported Newsroom.
At Picoco Primary School, 1,300 children were being taught with just three classrooms. The school’s director, Gilberto Albano Chiburee, said the school had been able to accommodate 200 students among those three classrooms, but the number of students kept increasing.
Students then were divided into three sessions, morning, afternoon and evening. When the number of students passed 500, Chiburee and the faculty started planting trees.
“We used these trees as makeshift classrooms because we did not have any other option. We had sought the help of various companies, nonprofit organizations and the government but to no avail,” Chiburee said.
The first and second graders were given the classrooms, while third through seventh graders learned under trees.
“It broke my heart to have children arrive as early as 6 a.m. only to sit on the hard and uncomfortable ground until noon. Some of the children started experiencing back problems,” said Chiburee.
When the Church and No Poor heard about the school, they arranged to construct five classrooms. Newsroom reported the news was received with great excitement, gratitude and tears from teachers, students and families. Chiburee expressed how thankful he was that no student would be sent home as a result of rain or wind.
The project is expected to be completed by the end of June this year. An additional 900 students will be accommodated.
The Church’s Africa South Area welfare manager, Phillip Moatlhodi, said another project they tackled was Matole Gare Primary School. “The conditions prior to the start of the project were not ideal,” said Moatlhodi. “The parents had started to construct two classrooms to improve the conditions of their children, however, because of the impact of COVID-19 they were not able to complete the classrooms.”
The Church funded the construction of two classrooms and private donors funded the construction of three more. Then they gave five new classrooms to a small, struggling school in the rural area of Mahubo. About 900 additional students can now be accommodated thanks to this effort, reported Newsroom.