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Jorge Ferrío

MOZAMBIQUE - Health & Education

Social Studies

Minister, Education and Human Development

Bio

Born in the province of Nampula, Jorge Ferrío graduated in International Relations and Diplomacy at ISRI in Mozambique, completed a Master’s degree in Public Policy at the University of Zimbabwe – SARPS and earned his PhD at the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro, UFRRJ in Brazil. Both a writer and broadcaster, Ferrío is currently Rector of the University Lúrio (UniLúrio) in Nampula, Mozambique. In 2011 he assumed the position of President of the Association of Portuguese Speaking Universities (AULP) and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of Universities of Southern Africa (SARUA). A recipient of both national and international awards, in 2012 he was named Personality of the Year in Mozambique.

TBY talks to Jorge Ferrío, Minister of Education and Human Development, on facilitating social advancement through effective education—and valuing the teacher.

What are the main challenges for the Ministry of Education and Human Development for the next five years?

We are tasked with nothing less than building a country. There can be no development without universal education and a collaboration between between those who “know how to think” and those who “know what to do.” In this light, we cannot lightly accept the reality that there are not enough schools for those who want to study. We are short of classrooms, equipment and learning materials, which must be remedied. Our teachers, who are the basis of society and of a future based on knowledge, tolerance, respect, and development, need to see their professional careers recognized as being among the core professions in civil society. We need also to guarantee the effective management of schools, and the active intervention of parents. Our ambition is to launch the “Club of the Friends of Education” and invite entities such as companies, banks, artists, and religious organizations to contribute to the development of basic and high schooling, in a concept that we call “Solidary Education.” There is no progress while our children are unable to read, write, and express themselves effectively.

How do you expect the literacy ratio in Mozambique to evolve?

Literacy can be achieved by providing adequate resources to schools and by galvanizing society to comprehend the value of education. We still have a high illiteracy rate, but it is destined to drop. The previous government had the goal of helping 1 million people into literacy, and the milestone was almost achieved. Once again, this is a responsibility that belongs to us all. This year we will ensure that the new intake of teachers, as well as those with experience, come fully to grips with the basics of both teaching and nurturing children.

How would you describe the existing education infrastructure in Mozambique and what investments are necessary to fulfill your medium term goals?

As in many countries, infrastructure inevitably has its shortfalls. Yet the idea is simple; to build more schools, be better equipped, and provide students a nurturing environment conducive to development and growth. In 2015, we will integrate more than 8,000 new teachers into the school system. Senior teachers have the responsibility of administering, controlling, and implementing policy stipulated by the Ministry, with the support of Provincial Directors. This year has commenced with the de-centralization of budgets and reallocation of some of these to schools. This will enable schools to establish the necessary autonomy to establish basic operational principles. We will rigorously and effectively control the resources for maximum effectiveness.

How would you characterize the significance of education and human development to ensure long-term good governance and political stability?

Governance and politics require qualified professionals to implement policies and create an environment of confidence that is credible to investors. Companies, government, universities, and schools reflect the quality of their human resources, and it is easy to see why human capital is the engine of an organization. In Mozambique, there is a lack of skilled people across many fields, but especially in the areas of engineering and the sciences, and we require an urgent closing of this gap. While the majority of the developed countries have a plan for professional teaching, in Mozambique we still face an insufficient number of skilled professionals. We need policies that focus on the planning and investment in skilled labor in the long-term or in other words a planned investment in education. The educational system should provide an opportunity for people to become fuller citizens to the benefit of the nation at large.

What are the main investment opportunities in the education sector for foreign investors?

The pitfalls of the education system are perfectly clear. We welcome investments in schools to develop professional education, universities, and research centers that want to focus on the disciplines of natural sciences and engineering, mainly in the emerging areas of oil and gas. We also want to focus on the first few years of childhood and in the special schooling for students with special requirements. It is necessary to understand Mozambique’s reality and to evaluate the need for relevant investment, although I would say that there are plenty of opportunities for investment.

What are the main objectives you would like to achieve during your tenure?

I would like to see a reduction in the number of students who abandon education, thereby turning their back on the development of their country and of greater freedom. It is also important to make schooling more appealing to youth by exploring the local curriculum and instilling the importance of a solid education. We also want to underline the dignity of teaching as a career, as a fundamentally important status within society, and to promote the idea of thinking, rationalizing, and doing.

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