JB vows to develop Malawi girls, enhance their potential: Providence 80th Anniversary celebrations

President Joyce Banda has said government will make available conducive conditions that will enable girls not only access education, or remain in school, but also whet their appetite to fully exploit their potentials to attain full potential.

She said this would be through a five-pronged approach that includes promoting parental and community involvement, making the school environment safe, developing systematic programs of role modelling and career guidance, reviving drama and debate clubs in the schools and continuing to publicise the re-admission policy so that girls that dropped out of school can return to secure their future.

She was speaking in Mulanje on Saturday when she presided over the 80th Anniversary Celebration of Providence Secondary School marked under the theme ‘Providing holistic education to the girl child in the spirit of light and truth’.

Providence Secondary School has produced professional women, politicians, business women, diplomats, but most significantly, from April 7, 2012 – when President Dr Banda became the Head of State of Malawi, it entered the echelons of history for having produced Malawi’s first female President.

President Banda joins a procession of the alimni of between 1963 and 1973 at the Providence Secondary School 80th Anniversary celebrations in Mulanje

President Banda joins a procession of the alimni of between 1963 and 1973 at the Providence Secondary School 80th Anniversary celebrations in Mulanje

The President said education is one of the most critical areas of empowerment for women, lamenting, though, that it is also an area that offers some of the clearest examples of discrimination women suffer, saying among children not attending school in the world there are twice as many girls as boys, and among illiterate adults there are twice as many women as men.

She emphasised that offering basic education to girls is one sure way of giving them much greater power; of enabling them to make genuine choices over the kinds of lives they wish to lead.

“This is not a luxury,” President Banda, who attended Providence Secondary School between 1964 and 1968, emphasised, adding: “What l find most stunning about Providence is that right from the beginning, the founders of the institution had seen the need to educate the girl child, whom, it recognised at that time to be a less privileged child in an average Malawian family.”

She said her government is implementing a number of interventions, which include construction of girls’ hostels in selected Day Secondary Schools to reduce walking distances to and from school, which exposes the girl child to abuses and hardships. Government is also training more teachers and offering scholarships to existing ones to upgrade their education.

“Education and skills training are critical for poverty reduction and sustainable development in creating a critical mass of technically and entrepreneurially qualified people, who are able to stimulate investment opportunities, create jobs and increase productivity.

She applauded the Catholic Church, which owns the school, for the contribution the church is making towards the education sector and women’s leadership.

“I urge you to continue doing the good work you are doing in the promotion and empowerment of quality girls’ education,” said Banda.

She appealed to other providers of girls’ secondary education to emulate the example of Providence to develop more value adding programmes that continuously address issues of access and equity, quality and relevance of girls’ education.

“I wish to also make an appeal to my fellow alumni that we have seen for ourselves the state of our school. Many buildings here require maintenance, and the school needs more materials and equipment. She suggested that the alumni form a club through which they can make necessary interventions to help the school. This is the best way to give back to our school,” she advised.

Archbishop Tarcizius Ziyaye of Blantyre Archdiocese, under whose jurisdiction Providence Secondary School falls, commended President Banda for being an inspiration to many girls including those that are still students at the school.

The function was prefaced by prayers, infixed by speeches by the Minister of Education Eunice Kazembe, school’s chairperson of Parents and Teachers Association, head girl, a representative of the alumni and the headmistress.

President Banda poses for a photograph with her Form One teacher in 1964 at the Providence Secondary School 80th Anniversary celebrations in Mulanje

President Banda poses for a photograph with her Form One teacher in 1964 at the Providence Secondary School 80th Anniversary celebrations in Mulanje

The Providence Secondary School Alumni including JB poses for a group photograph

The Providence Secondary School Alumni including JB poses for a group photograph

President Banda presents a gift to the Headmistress at the Providence Secondary School 80th Anniversary celebrations in Mulanje

President Banda presents a gift to the Headmistress at the Providence Secondary School 80th Anniversary celebrations in Mulanje

Deputy Health Minister Halima Daudi also joined the celebrations

Deputy Health Minister Halima Daudi also joined the celebrations

The Providence Secondary School Alumni JB speaks to the congregation

The Providence Secondary School Alumni JB speaks to the congregation

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