MAPUTO, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi has launched a national programme to produce school desks under which the government intends to distribute 140,000 desks by next year.

Since two pupils sit at a standard desk, and each desk will be used in up to three shifts at schools, this could allow almost a million children to study at desks, rather than sitting on the ground.

Speaking at the launch ceremony at the Sansao Muthemba Primary School in the western province of Tete, about 1,100 kilometres north of here, over the weekend, Nyusi said the wood to be used to produce the desks would come from the timber seized by the authrorities earlier this year in Operation Trunk.

This was the operation to crack down on illegal timber operations led by the Ministry of Land, Environment and Rural Development, in which dozens of timber yards, many of them owned by Chinese businesses, were raided, and more than 222,000 cubic metres of logs were seized.

Nyusi estimates the current shortage of school desks at 800,000, which means there are about three million pupils who attend classes sitting on the floor.

Aware that the availability of desks has a positive influence on the quality of education, the governmnent defined as a priority in its Five-Year (Development) Programme for 2015/2019 the acquisition and distribution of 700,000 desks, said Nyusi.

In 2015 and 2016, the government purchased and distributed 151,000 desks. In the third quarter of this year a further 40,600 desks were acquired.