According to statistics quoted on Monday by Education Minister Zeferino Martins, only four per cent of children aged five and under have had access to crèches or other forms of pre-school education.
"We all know how important it is for children to go through pre-school education before they enter primary school", said Martins, "since it is in the pre-school institutions that children acquire the assumptions necessary for learning".
He was speaking to a group of 40 children from to Maputo crèches, who visited him as part of the celebrations of International Children's Day, 1 June.
Martins stressed that they children who visited him were from a fortunate minority, since the great majority of their peers are quite unable to attend pre-school education.
Pre-school education does not yet form part of the National Education System. Creches, mostly privately owned, exist in the cities - but the cost of sending a child there puts them out of reach of most parents. In rural areas crèches barely exist.
It was in pre-school education, Martins said, that children came to know such instruments as pencils and rulers, and had their first contact with reading and writing, which would stand them in good stead when they entered primary school.
"So we can state that much of the poor school performance is partly because the children did not undergo any phase of pre-school education", he added.
The Ministry of Education is now studying the possibility of re-introducing standardized pre-primary education into the National Education System.
Source: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo, Mozambique)