Finland strengthens support for the education sector and peace process in Mozambique

Finland’s development cooperation appropriations support access to education and disarmament of Renamo troops and their return to civilian life in accordance with the peace agreement.

School children in a clasroom.
The FASE Trust Fund supported by Finland has helped to reduce class sizes in schools in Mozambique. However, on average, a class still consists of 65 children. Pupils at the Escola Primaria Unidad 30 primary school in Maputo in February 2020. Photograph: Ruut Tolonen

Finland and Mozambique signed an agreement on Finland's EUR 10 million appropriation to the education sector of Mozambique for the year 2020. For a long time, the education sector has been one of Finland's priorities in development cooperation in Mozambique.

Since 2003, Finland’s allocations to improve basic education have been channelled through the FASE Trust Fund (Fundo de Apoio ao Sector da Educacão), which was founded by donors and Mozambique’s Ministry of Education.

The programme covers education from pre-primary level to general upper secondary education and adult education and training. It provides for learning materials, training for teachers and education development work, among other things.

The funding now granted is directed to the implementation of the education strategy (2020–2029) that was adopted this spring and to support special measures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The schools in Mozambique have been closed since March.

The Ministry of Education and Culture implements the policies of the Mozambican Government and produces support material and necessary infrastructure for schools and educational institutions to manage the exceptional arrangements caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the moment, Finland chairs the FASE donor group and holds the main responsibility for planning, coordinating and monitoring the programme with Mozambique's authorities and civil society actors.

Finland promotes improving the quality of education

The majority of the eight million school-aged children in Mozambique go to school. However, as in many developing countries, the learning outcomes are poor due to large class sizes, low education level of teachers and inadequate facilities that may lack electricity or running water.

FASE cooperation has increased girls' access to education significantly, decreased regional disparity, reduced class sizes and increased the number of trained teachers. Finland's main objective during its chairmanship is to continue the work on improving the quality of education and reducing inequality by expanding education in the students' mother tongues and by removing barriers to girls' education.

Two women sitten behind a desk and wearing masks.
Aiofe Murphy, a member of the Mozambique Peace Secretariat, and Laura Torvinen, the Ambassador of Finland to Mozambique, pictured in July 2020 at the signing of the agreement for Finland's EUR 300,000 support for the peace process. Photograph: Henna Mäki-Mantila/MFA

Permanent peace requires swift action          

In addition to the support for the education sector, Finland has granted EUR 300,000 for promoting the peace process, which Finland has politically supported since its start in 2016.

The peace negotiations between the Mozambican Government and the armed wing of opposition party Renamo concluded in August 2019. The peace agreement, which was adopted as law by Mozambique's parliament, confirms the commitment of the parties to ending hostilities and defines a roadmap to disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR process) of the Renamo troops in an agreed timeframe.

The EUR 300,000 is allocated to the implementation of the DDR process. The funding is channelled through a joint peace trust fund, which is administered by UNOPS with the Mozambique Peace Secretariat in Maputo.

Finland's funding provides an important additional support for implementing the DDR process quickly, which is essential for creating permanent peace in Mozambique. The DDR process covers approximately 5,200 Renamo fighters. In order to facilitate their return to civilian life, they are granted financial compensation and a package including clothes, household items and tools. This support helps the fighters to return to their home regions.

The funding also demonstrates Finland’s commitment to peace work in Mozambique and strengthens Finland's role in the dialogue with the Mozambican Government and the cooperation partners.

In 2019, Finland granted EUR 100,000 in total to support the peace negotiation process.

Ruut Tolonen

Author works as communications officer at Foreign Ministry's Communications department.