More than 36,000 pupils in Mozambique have been forced to interrupt their studies because of armed attacks by gunmen of the rebel movement Renamo in the central part of the country, according to a report by the independent television station STV.

STV Monday cited a survey undertaken by the Ministry of Education and Human Development which found that 97 schools had stopped functioning in the provinces of Sofala, Manica, Tete and Zambezia because of clashes between Renamo and the defence and security forces.

The data were collected by the provincial education directorates at the request of the Ministry, after schools located in the conflict zones failed to present information on the number of pupils enrolled this year.

“We are continuing to work with all the directorates, and we are checking the schools which, for reasons of security, have had to close,” said Education Minister Jorge Ferrao. “We don’t want to put the lives of pupils or teachers at risk.”

Sofala is the worst hit province, with 38 schools closed. In Zambezia, 27 schools have been forced to close, in Tete 25 and in Manica, seven.

The Education Ministry has not been able to find alternatives for the pupils affected, and Ferrao admitted that continuing military tensions could compromise the entire 2016 school year for these children.

Source: NNN-AIM