Mozambique’s Girls Deprived of Right to Education, Daily Brief February 14, 2024

Daily Brief, February 14, 2024.


Mozambique faces enormous challenges in keeping pregnant girls and young women, or those with small children, in school, a new HRW report finds.

These women and girls need strong support from schools – especially during one of the most vulnerable times in their lives.

Why do pregnant or parenting girls and women drop out? The reasons vary and intersect. They face discrimination, gender-based violence, and poverty. For many, juggling school and childcare responsibilities can be impossible. Additionally, the lack of free education pushes many girls from the poorest households out of school. Most have no childcare options.

A quick rundown of numbers reveals the challenging situations girls in Mozambique find themselves in:

· 70 percent of pregnant girls in Mozambique dropped out of school, a study shows.

· The country has the fifth highest rate of child marriage in the world.

· Mozambique’s adolescent pregnancy rate is one of the highest in Africa. At least 1 in 10 girls has had a child before age 15, according to the United Nations.

· In 2022, only 41 percent of girls completed lower secondary school.

· In 2020, only 4 percent of girls completed upper secondary school.

In 2003, the Mozambican government adopted a decree mandating school officials to move pregnant girls and adolescent mothers from daytime schools to night-shift schools. This decree effectively authorized and cemented discrimination against these students in the national education system. Following that, society groups in Mozambique led a campaign that successfully pressed the education ministry to revoke the decree in 2018. But despite showing the political will for change, the government has struggled to tackle the enormous systemic and social barriers girls face to stay in school.

In our research, Human Rights Watch found that some teachers and school authorities still automatically referred students to night-shift schools due to stigma, existing discriminatory practices, or unclear or no guidance from officials. Encouragingly, other teachers did support female students to stay in schools.

Mozambique should adopt legally enforceable regulations to ensure girls’ right to education during pregnancy and parenthood. The government should also ensure all students access comprehensive sexuality education and adequate reproductive health services.

Mozambique’s girls – just as all the girls the world – have a fundamental right to education, no matter what circumstances they are in – and this right should be guaranteed.