In a bid to mitigate the impact of HIV and AIDS and promote education among the youth, National Aids Commission – NAC’s has launched the “Stay in School Initiative”.
Commissioner Chimwemwe Kaonga lauched the initiative at a function held at St Kizito Community Day Secondary School in Blantyre.
The initiative which is targeting vulnerable youth in marginalised communities across the nation, seeks to support underprivileged students in selected secondary schools with school fees.
Further to that, the initiative will be awarding exceptional students with “Excellence Awards” at the MSCE level.
Speaking when he presided over the launch of the initiative, the Youth Commissioner, bemoaned increased prevalence of HIV amongst the youth and specifically female adolescents.
“Much as Malawi continues to register a decrease in general HIV prevalence; a reduction in HIV/AIDS related deaths; as well as a decrease in Mother to Child transmission, it is worrying to learn from statistics which currently puts prevalence of HIV at 5.2% in young females aged 15-24 against 1.9% in males within the same age brackets”.
Kaonga attributed this to intergenerational sex; early, child and forced marriages, lack of power by female adolescents to negotiate condom use, poverty, lack of quality and comprehensive youth friendly health services as well lack of self-control amongst the youth.
He also said it is worrying to note that most young people continue to suffer various developmental and health related challenges affecting our societies
“ Today, Lack of access to high quality education, early child and forced marriages, high school dropout rates, early pregnancies HIV and Aids top the list of developmental and reproductive health challenges rocking the youth sector.,” he said.
Kaonga said if the challenges will go unchecked, “we are creating a hopeless nation because it is young people who form the foundation of our societies. This therefore calls for greater investment in young people in line with our demographic dividend.”
He said a number of issues impinge on the participation of the youth in national development. which include high illiteracy rates, high population growth rate, exploitation by adults, unemployment and underemployment as well as poverty are some of the issues which the government and other strategic partners need to address.
“ It is a harsh reality that more than 50% of Malawian girls are married and or raising children by the age of 18; this is unacceptable. Research and experience has shown that keeping children in school, delays their time to get married and in the process are better prepared for life. This is one of the reasons why this initiative has come to stay.
“ The personal development of the individual young person, along with the development of the local communities and the country as a whole is inextricably linked to education.”
Kaonga said Youth Commissioner’s Stay in school Initiative will therefore help mitigate the impact of HIV and AIDS by providing bursaries in selected secondary schools across the nation as well as awarding exceptional talents as a way of motivating students to work hard.
Speaking during the same function, Head teacher for St Kizito CDSS, Mrs Catherine Sitima thanked the Commissioner for personally rolling out the initiative with an aim of helping underprivileged students.
“Some of our students have been dropping out of school due to lack of fees which has been putting them at risk of early marriages and contraction of HIV but now we can all afford a smile”.
She then took advantage of the event to lobby for support for the provision of desks and science laboratory.
During the function, Commissioner Kaonga awarded James Samson with the Commissioner’s Excellence Award for topping the list of 2015 MSCE successful candidates at St Kizito CDSS with 13 points and has since been selected to pursue Engineering at the Malawi Polytechnic.
He went away with a certificate plus cash worth K15, 000.00. He also didtributed school bags and stationeries to bursary beneficiaries and best performing female students
Miss Blantyre, Polytechnic students, Young professionals and leaders of Youth Organizations participated in the event and gave motivational and mentorship talks.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :