School Safety in Africa – Life and Death in Mozambique

I apologize for not blogging more often, but our summer schedule has been rather hectic.

In August I visited a rural province of Mozambique.  The Zambeze Delta region is as remote a location as I have ever visited.  It was a wonderful and informative experience.  Schools in the area I visited typically have dirt floors, no power and no running water.  A school often consists of a simple thatched roof, a blackboard and hard wooden benches and a crude dirt soccer field. Yet children can and do learn.

In this part of Mozambique, lions, hyenas, crocodiles, cobras, hippos and cape buffalo are unique hazards that claim many young lives.  The mortality rate for young children is so high that parents in the region typically do not name their offspring until their fifth birthday.  Once children reach the age of five, they are more likely to survive malaria and have learned more about spotting the many types of wildlife that often can and do attack people.  Though I was there for only two weeks, I had a couple of close calls including one instance where I sat down for a moment only to be told that a cobra was only five paces away.  My inability to spot the snake could have been a lethal error had someone familiar with local hazards not been there to spot the danger.

The region I visited is one of the last truly wild regions left on the Dark Continent.  Through private efforts, the region I visited has truly amazing populations of wildlife that cannot be seen outside of national parks in places like Kenya where poaches have wiped out most of the countries’ wildlife.  Though the trip had a few tense moments, it was one of the most wonderful trips I have been blessed to experience.  The trip provided a stark contrasts relating to school safety we sometimes see around the globe.  This contrast reminded me just how fortunate American children, parents and school officials can are to live if a place where we see the deaths of young children as an anomaly rather than a routine fact of life.

About Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center. The author of 27 books on school safety, Michael’s campus safety work has taken him to 11 countries over the past 34 years.