By Sylvester Kumwenda:
First Lady, Monica Chakwera has asked communities in the country to take the responsibility of ensuring that girl children remain in school.
She made the call during her visit to Milonde 1 Primary School in Dedza, to appreciate interventions being implemented by the UK Government in helping girls to go through basic education.
Milonde 1 is one of the schools which the UK Government, through the Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) Learner Guides Model is implementing.
The model involves training former beneficiaries of CAMFED who have finished their education and are working.
The training is on how they can also be of help and role models (with their education) to other vulnerable younger girls from their communities.
“It takes a village to educate the girl child. The chiefs, community, parents and the teachers are only some of the stakeholders that need to continue coming together and believing in these girls’ potential.
“Continue to encourage and champion the girls and discourage and actively speak against harmful practices such as child marriage.
“I am delighted to see how the Ministry of Education has joined forces with the UK Government, CAMFED and community members to educate the girl child here in Dedza and around the country. I commend the CAMFED volunteers for dedicating their time to this important cause,” she said.
Chakwera, however, said a lot of girls still face a lot of challenges like poverty, household chores, pressure of early marriages and being looked down upon.
This, she said, demands everyone to become a champion for girls. She then asked girls to develop high self-esteem in their lives.
“Self-esteem is a shield against these threats, one that says: “I count, I am valuable, and I am smart. I can succeed”. Do not let anyone make you believe otherwise. Use self-esteem, determination, perseverance and bravery to continue trying in the face of difficulties,” she said.
During the visit, the First Lady was also accompanied by UK High Commissioner, David Beer.
Beer, whose government is pumping in around £37 million to ensure children, especially girls, complete primary school level, said girl child education remains one of his government’s priority areas.
“One of the best investments we can make for girls is to improve the quality of their education.
“Evidence shows that improving the quality of education for all students has a particularly strong effect on improving retention and learning for girls,” said Beer.
He, therefore, said through CAMFED, his government has provided scholarships and in-kind support to around 35,000 girls who were on the verge of dropping out of school.
He added that about 239, 000 girls and boys have been reached through the Leaner Guides Model.
Through various interventions, Beer assured that the UK Government will continue supporting Malawi so that every Malawian girl child can achieve 12 years of quality education.
Alice Kamakoko, one of the beneficiaries of CAMFED who was assisted from secondary to university and is now a nurse after graduating from Kamuzu College of Nursing, urged girls to work hard.
“You must remain in school at all costs. This helps you to get married at the right age; prevent problems you may face due to early pregnancies and helps you become future responsible independent women,” she said.
On his part, Group Village Head Kasumbu said CAMFED has helped alleviate some challenges that existed at the school such as dropouts. She committed her leadership to do everything possible to support girl child education in the area.
Minister of Education, Agness nyaLonje, said her ministry would continue with its efforts to improve education standards in the country.
She further said government would like to adopt the Leaner Guides Model so that it may be implemented across the country.