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Mozambique: Canoe rides to campus for underprivileged schoolchildren

Some children in Mozambique catch canoes to class.   -  
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LUSA footage

Mozambique

Every morning in Mozambique, some 40 schoolchildren board canoes -- crossing the river to get to school.

Domingo Afonso, 15, a first-year secondary school student who has been crossing the river for two years.

"This side (Gama) doesn't have a secondary school. We have to cross to study in Mandie."

For girls -- who are particularly affected by illiteracy in the country, school is an escape from early marriage.

At 15 Egesse escaped marriage at the end of primary school. Now, to continue her studies, she has another challenge: walking 14 kilometres and crossing a 50-metre wide river in a canoe.

Egesse Patrício, a student at Mandie Secondary School, outlines her daily routine.

"I study in Mandie, I come here every day and now I cross this river by canoe to go to school.

Crossing the river is not without risks ss the schoolchildren navigate on makeshift canoes made of tree trunks.

During the rainy season from October to March, the trip is even more dangerous.
The second part of the journey is done on foot, with the children wading knee -- even waist-high water.

Primary school is mandatory in the country from the age of 6 and yet 45% of the adult population is illiterate.

Upon graduation, most children are left to marry or raise cattle.

School councils are fighting to make a change.

Cristopher Baera, the headmaster of Mandie High School, is ready to keep up efforts to protect the future of Mozambican youth.

"We are fighting this battle against illiteracy, even if it means children crossing the river.

Although financial means is a factor, Some concerned parents place their children in boarding school or rent hunts on the bank of Mandie to avoid the risky river crossing.

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