Mozambique has had to tackle significant disparities in access to higher education by socioeconomic status. For example, the female participation in higher education institutions was just 25% before project implementation. Also, the share of students from impoverished Northern provinces was only 10% in 2000; 60% of students being from Maputo or Southern provinces. Although increasing demand for higher education brought an expansion of higher education institutions, this expansion continued to benefit the higher income groups. A major challenge was to improve participation among girls and women and in the lowest socioeconomic quintile. Other key needs have been to respond to labor market demand and national skill requirements; and to use available resources more efficiently.
To address the above objectives, the project supported several interventions on the supply and demand side, such as (i) improving operational efficiency at the institutional level, (ii) improving quality and more relevant course content, and (iii) increasing the number of graduates. Additional actions on the demand side (putting additional resources into a scholarship program), support for new types of institution, opening up for private sector diversification, geographic diversification of existing institutions (UEM and UP) and the introduction of distance education (the Mozambique Distance Learning Network) eased geographic and gender inequality in access.
The rehabilitation/construction of institutions in the north and center of the country created the space for geographical diversification of HEIs and eased demand and supply constraints in efficiency, including the establishment of competitive funds with open access to both public and private institutions.
In addition, the project supported the design and start-up of the Provincial scholarship program, including manual design and establishment of Provincial commissions and support for staff. The scholarships targeted female students and students from disadvantaged Northern provinces. Over the Project’s life, 322 students were supported to study on undergraduate courses in private and public universities. 226 students have already graduated and 208 returned to their Provinces.
- A revision of the legal framework for higher education provided room for the establishment of shorter licenciatura courses. The number of students enrolled in higher education institutions increased from 9,800 in 2000 to 63,000 in 2007 and nearly 80,000 in 2010. The share of female students enrolled in higher education institutions increased from 25% before implementation of the project, to 38% in 2008. The number of higher education graduates increased from 800 in 2000 to 7,000 in 2010. Two main institutional beneficiaries of the project contributed more than 80% of these improvements. In addition, the staffs to student ratios in the two largest institutions have sharply decreased, by a factor of two in UP and by 50% in UEM, reducing costs per student. Female students also made up a larger share of those graduating in 2008 (41%) from 30% in 2003.
- The share of students from Northern Provinces studying in the main universities in the south increased substantially. In UP, 20% of the students was from the Northern provinces and 28% were from the central provinces in 2009, compared to the national average of 10 % of students from the Northern provinces in 2000.
At the request of the Government of Mozambique, the total contribution from IDA to the sector from 2002- 2010 was US$ 75 million through two financing agreements. The first became effective in 2002 and provided US$ 60 million for the parent project and the second became effective in 2007 with US$ 15 million as additional financing.
The project did not have any direct support from Cooperating Partners (CPs) or the private sector. However, activities funded by the project mobilized other partners to support Higher education and Science and Technology at the system level. For example, Netherlands has contributed in the establishment of a nation-wide regulatory, institutional and organizational framework for the higher education sub-sector. Another example of the mobilization by the project is that positive evaluation of two competitive funds in the project motivated Finland and Sweden to initiate higher education programs who are now major financiers in the area of Science and Technology. The scholarship program in this project also mobilized CPs to establish a scholarship institute by the Government for which GoM, the Bank and CPs channel funds to support students who would not otherwise enter HE. In addition, the project support to upgrading of lectures qualifications contributed to an increased pool of better qualified lecturers, establishment of joint research programs with institutions in Portugal, Brazil, South Africa.
Toward the Future
Following the conclusion of this project, a new project - Higher Education Science and Technology (HEST) - became effective in November 2010. The HEST will increase the number and raise the quality of graduates at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and strengthen the national capacity to produce research outputs of relevant to the country’s strategic economic sectors. The project’s support to the provincial scholarship program has paved the way for more extensive efforts on equity and will influence the new state financing mechanisms being supported under HEST.
The scholarship program under the project encouraged other donors to initiate similar schemes. The Swedish embassy began support in 2004 and the Netherlands embassy in 2006. In addition, the scheme provided the basis for the establishment of the Institute for Scholarship (IBE), GOM’s own program, which is being implemented now and receives support from the new HEST project. The introduction of BA programs and shorter courses of study has been crucial in the promotion of internal and external efficiency. Curriculum reform included also the development and introduction of new academic programs in the areas of high labor market demand, in particular, public administration, business administration, accounting, tourism, and hotel management It also supported the introductions of Master degrees in selected priority areas such as Agriculture.
Diolinda is one of the beneficiaries of the higher education scholarship program to help poor disadvantaged students (who meet the qualifications to enter university) access higher education. She is from a rural area in Niassa province, Ingauma district in northern Mozambique, and is studying public management at the University Eduardo Mondlane. Her parents are divorced; the mother is a housewife and father is a mechanic. She is the oldest of seven siblings. She said, “To have the opportunity to get the scholarship was very important. My mother never thought she could have her daughter in university because they are very poor and it is not easy to make it". Once her studies are completed, she said: "I would like to open my own business, perhaps a company. I want to manage a company. I would like to contract my father to be in my company as an employee.”