By Owen Nyaka:
About 22 male learners at Chikowa Primary School in Traditional Authority Ndindi’s area in the Lakeshore district of Salima missed the just concluded the Malawi Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education (PSLCE) examinations due to cultural traditional male circumcision ceremony otherwise called Jando in vernacular.
Speaking Saturday during an event organized by UJAMAA Pamodzi Africa at Mikute Primary School, a representative from Salima District Education Manager’s office, Luckwel Ngongonda said:
“We are shocked to hear that 22 learners who were PSLCE candidates did not write their examinations because they are at tsimba until today.”
Ngongonda implored chiefs, as custodians of culture, to ensure that such practice does not collide with school calendar.
CSO Chairperson for Salima, Paul Duncan, described it as a sad development. “The children’s right to education has been grossly violated. We are going to work hand in hand with the Dem’s office and other stakeholders to address the issue.”
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one Ngaliba from the Lakeshore blamed the unstable of the country’s school calendar saying previously Jando ceremony were done during a long holiday. “This long holiday was suiting well with our cultural practice because it was also winter season.”
UJAMMA Field project coordinator and Salima District Coordinator Angella Ng’omang’oma trashed the assertion saying this is a sad development because the community beliefs has contributed to violating right to education to all 22 standard 8 students including others from lower classes who are still in the campus. It will be hard for some of these students to go back to school and repeat the same class and some may opt to drop out.
“Communities especially chiefs needs to sit down and have by-laws enforced this will help to avoid such cases from happening. Parents needs to reduce the gaps which exist between them and their children in which they should be in forefront guiding their children in a right way,” says Ng’omang’oma.
She, however say Chikowa primary is one of the selected schools which UJAMAA is expected to start implementing a violence prevention programme this week Tuesday. The program is expected to empower female students and transform male students.
This, Ng’omang’oma say will help in creating a safe space which learners will be able to stand up for themselves, make good decisions on issues affecting them, protecting themselves and community at large.
UJAMAA will also train and mentor community volunteers surrounding the area as ambassadors to champion in ending Gender based violence.