First Lady, Gertrude Mutharika has launched three projects worth K34 billion aimed at promoting lives of girls and the youth in general.and appealed to community leaders, parents and stakeholders in the country to take the initiative and commitment in fostering girl’s education.
Madam Mutharika made the remarks on Friday at Nkhonde Primary school in Balaka when she alongside United States Ambassador, Virginia Palmer, formally launched a K6 billion, ASPIRE project that focuses on empowering girls through education and health with funding from USAID.
“ASPIRE has provided us all a chance to reflect on the challenges the girl child faces and how we can all work together to encourage them so that they do not have anything hindering them from continuing their education,” Madam Mutharika said.
“It is a necessity that girls should be taught how to take care of themselves and are self aware of the changes in their bodies so that no one takes advantage of them,” she added.
Mutharika also urged school and community leaders as well as all stakeholders to deal with all cases of sexual harassment girls face in schools by creating a safe environment where they would feel free to attend classes.
The First Lady was presented with a symbolic cheque from the American Ambassador to Malawi to signify the United States government investment in girls’ education and health through the ASPIRE activity.
The funds include K6 billion for empowering girls through education and health in a project called Aspire, K10 billion for a Dreams Project for prevention of the spread of HIV to girls and young women and K19 billion for ACT programme for ensuring that HIV-positive children—boys and girls alike— get life-saving treatment.
Palmer said through Aspire project they expect that by 2018, at least 90 percent of students in grade four will be able to finish grade eight instead of the current 77 percent.
“ASPIRE will work with 138,000 adolescent girls enrolled in all 317 primary and 40 secondary schools in Balaka and Machinga districts. It will establish community reading centers and provide training for teachers to help improve girls’ reading skills,” said Palmer.
She added that ASPIRE will also help girls adopt health behaviors by providing life skills training and adequate water and sanitation facilities.
“Achieving the reality of strong girls and women contributing to a strong and healthy Malawi is not the responsibility of any one sector, ministry or donor but a collective responsibility which requires policy coherence and coordination,” she advised.
On his part Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Dr Emmanuel Fabiano pledged continued support from his ministry towards all ASPIRE activities and any other initiatives geared to promoting the girl child.
The ceremony also marked the formal launch of two other programs for the advancement of girls’ education and health namely Dreams Project with funding of K10billion and ACT Program with K19billion funding by USAID. –Reporting by Lilly Kampani, Mana and Zawadi Chilunga, Nyasa TimesFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :