Understanding High Dropout Rates in Primary School Education in Mozambique
Abstract: Mozambique remains one of the poorest countries in the world and has one of the least functional basic education systems. Despite a rapid expansion in access to basic education, the vast majority of pupils fail to complete a full seven year cycle of primary school. This research aims to better understand the characteristics, causes and consequences of children dropping out of primary school among low income families in rural areas. The research is based upon a qualitative fieldwork study in Ribáué, a rural district in the northern province of Nampula. Theoretically orientated by the Capabilities Approach, giving a holistic conception of education and development, this research will analyse the findings using the Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (SRL) framework. Such a model enables the analysis to incorporate a diverse range of household, societal and exogenous aspects to give a rich interpretation of the situation. Given education’s prominence in many development discourses, particularly in relation to the Millennium Development Goals and the forthcoming post-2015 agenda, this research aims to contribute a deeper understanding of the role of education in such situations, what factors influence the dropout phenomenon, and the consequences of children failing to finish primary school. The results indicate that dropouts are characterised by situations of extreme income poverty interacting with exogenous factors which create vulnerable livelihoods and where the quality of education is considered low. The causes of dropouts generally relate to families’ lack of resilience to cope with socio-economic shocks and the paucity of post-school opportunities. The consequences are severe for the individuals, their families and Mozambique, resulting in limited capacity to create sustainable livelihoods. There is also a likely transgenerational effect, with future generations afflicted by persistent vulnerability due to a lack of capabilities and opportunities from not completing school.
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