I managed to combine work and pleasure last weekend when I went to visit Polana Secondary School in Maputo for the promotion of the 1GOAL campaign here in Mozambique. The Polana Secondary School is situated just behind the Dutch Embassy and next to the Swaziland High Commission in the Polana district of Maputo. I am a regular visitor to the Dutch Embassy, and have always wondered why there were so many young people with green trousers or skirts and white shirts or blouses sitting on the wall or standing in the street outside, well now I know! Hidden behind the Dutch Embassy is an inner city secondary school – but with a large playing field and a large covered space for sporting activities.
The 1GOAL campaign, has a website (www.join1goal.org), which sets out the objective of using the excitement associated with the World Cup in southern Africa to promote the goal of every child having the opportunity to go to school. Making the link between sport, which most young people like, and education, which all young people need, is proving a successful strategy to mobilise international interest in Education for All (a campaign that was first launched in 1990).
DFID has been supporting the 1GOAL campaign, encouraging the countries in which we work to re-affirm their commitment to the Millennium Development Goal of universal access to primary education. Working with the British Council here in Maputo, DFID has drawn on the huge national interest in football in Mozambique to bring in Mozambique’s star football player Manuel Bucuane (better known as Tico Tico) who is captain of the national team, the Black Mambas, to support the campaign. Tico Tico gave a short speech to an excited audience of young people and was subsequently swamped by people asking for his signature. You can seen him in action here on the left playing football with some of the young people.
Aside from the excitement of a national football star being present, the morning also attracted Minister Martins, Minister of Education, who can be seen here on the right pictured with Shaun Cleary, British High Commissioner, Lisa McManus, Head of the British Council and myself, as we watch the girls' football team play a match.
The real star of the whole day however was a young boy (pictured here on the left) who was in a dance group that performed for the Minister. I tell you, Mozambique has talent - this boy could dance! I don’t think I have ever seen anyone move so quickly, and the supporting drums created a real atmosphere of excitement.
The morning’s event was a great success and fun. The Minister highlighted Mozambique’s on-going commitment to ensure every child goes to primary school. They are well on the way to achieving this goal with 98% of children enrolling in primary education. The Minister was particularly vocal on ensuring that equal numbers of girls as boys should go to school. Mozambique has made great progress towards achieving gender equality in school enrolment. For our part, we have commited to financing education in Mozambique and having seen the energy and enthusiasm of the group of students at Polana Secondary School, this is something worth investing in.