Bicycles are a common mode of transport in Mozambique. In Zambezia Province for example, bicycles form 37% of the urban transport, meaning that there are more bicycles than cars. However, bicycles are not just a form of transport, they provide millions of Mozambicans in rural areas with access to healthcare, clean water, jobs and education. They also relieve the people of the burden of paying for public transport, which is expensive and ever rising.
On average, school-going children living in Zavala District in Inhambane Province walk an average of 8 km to school and back. According to 13 students from Mahamba, Quissíco and Domingos Fondo secondary schools, every day, each of them walks 6 to 8 kms to school and an equivalent back home in the evening.
“I walk from my house to school every day. It takes me 2 hours to get to school on foot and I almost always arrive tired, which makes me not understand because I cannot concentrate on some subjects taught by the teachers,” said 16-year-old Nhabete, a grade 11 student.
In this regard, ChildFund Mozambique, through its local partner – Associação Txivuno Txa Vanana (ATTV) distributed 96 bicycles to school-going children with the aim of reducing the travel time to school and back home as well as promoting safety. This initiative is intended to reduce school dropout rates among youth in Zavala district.
“I am so happy to have received this bike. With this bike, I know I will be able to get to school without being late, in time to attend all the classes. I have been missing some of the morning classes because I get late,” said 14-year-old Feliciana, a grade 9 student.
The official handover ceremony was graced by His Excellency the Governor of Inhambane Province, Daniel Chapo, and attended by the young beneficiary students, the Zavala District Administrator, community members, teachers and students from Chizoho, Qussico and Mahamba schools.
“We are going to take very good care of these bicycles, and we appeal to school managers to control and monitor these assets so that, later on, there will be able to measure the improvements in the lives of the beneficiary students”, said Chapo. This is not the first batch of bicycles ChildFund has distributed. In 2020, in a bid to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through community sensitization, ChildFund distributed 100 bicycles to community volunteers in Zavala District to aid their movement while adhering to social distancing guidelines.
“The delivery of 96 bicycles to children in communities who attend pre-university education is a strategy for retaining children in school. This is one of the challenges identified in the education-related programs implemented by ATTV with support from ChildFund, in Inhambane Province,” said Arteonesa Sambo, ATTV Program Coordinator.