JB commits to children, youth empowerment

Malawi President Joyce Banda who is seeking her own mandate on May 20 on governing People’s Party (PP) banner has committed to empower the youth and children.

Banda signed a letter of commitment which included promises to reduce newborn deaths, reduce malnutrition, increase classrooms for better primary education, reduce early marriage and create jobs and reduce youth unemployment.

She made the commitment when she met children and youth under the auspices of the Malawi Human Rights Youth Network, Timveni Children and Youth Media and Unicef who engaged her at Kamuzu Palace with a list of priorities they want the government to address after elections.

JB signing the committment pact

JB signing the committment pact

President Banda with the children: Young people remain the focus of my government

President Banda with the children: Young people remain the focus of my government

“Young people remain the focus of my government because we realise that the youth are in majority, energetic, adventurous and they need support for them to actively participate in nation building,” said President Banda.

Banda said children and youth in general have been at the heart of her work and this has influenced her policy perspective in developing programmes and strategies in empowering young people.

“My Government recognizes that if we have to realise our vision to eradicate poverty and create wealth, we need to harness the potential of our youth and provide them with the means and opportunities to fulfill that potential. Our future rests on their success.  Their future is our success,” she said.

Banda said her work on uplifting children and youth in general started more than 30 years ago.

“In the area of education, I founded the Joyce Banda Foundation schools in Blantyre.  Regarded as one of the centres of academic excellence, the schools provide high quality education to children from middle income earning families,” she pointed out.

“In the area of orphan education, I established the Joyce Banda Foundation secondary school for orphans at Domasi in Zomba. The school is free and currently has a total of 200 children.

“In order to reach out to more needy students, I established the Edith Mtila Scholarship Programme that provides scholarships to deserving    youth. Currently, I am supporting over 3,000 students at secondary school level; 200 university students in all the constituency colleges of the University of Malawi. I also have three girls who are pursuing university education in the United States of America,” said Banda.

She added: “This year I am sending a total of 20 students to pursue various university programmes abroad. Out of these, 10 will be going to Russia to study medicine; 8 will pursue civil and mechanic engineering at the American University in the United Arab Emirates. Two  will be going to the United States.”

Banda also said she  run 36 orphan Care Centres across the currently which support over 3,600 orphans with elementary education.

“In the area of youth empowerment, I established Youth Movement for Development (YOMODE). This is a whole programme under the Joyce Banda Foundation which targets out of school youth with various economic programmes,” said the PP torch bearer.

She said her youth economic empowerment programme include the Kabaza Initiative.

“Under this programme, we are providing motor cycles to our youth both in urban and rural areas. This is an on-going programme and we hope to reach out to over 500,000 youth in the next 5 years,” she said.

President Banda said she has moved away from “podium rhetoric to action on the ground”.

She said: “I regard the youth as leaders today and tomorrow. It is therefore important that you get involved in the development of this country through your active participation in all sectors. “

President Banda said she is committed to see to it that the youth of Malawi are “the engine for development” and pledged to allocate more resources to the youth sector.

She then urged all young people to be “proactive.”

On Friday, Atupele Muluzi of United Democratic Front (UDF) interacted with the youth and children during which he promised that management of resources would be key to delivery of services for the youth, especially health care

The  other presidential candidates who  signed the commitment when they appeared  before the youths and children at the Bingu International Conference Centre in Lilongwe last week were Kamuzu Chibambo of People’s Transformation Party (Petra), Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Mark Katsonga of People’s Progressive Movement (PPM), George Nnensa of Tisintha Alliance, Helen Singh of United Independence Party (UIP) and Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

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