Malawi leader offers scholarships to 3 girls to study in US, pays gratitude to Zodiak

President Joyce Banda has recognized the contribution to the democratization and development efforts in the country that the private media, especially Zodiak Broadcasting Corporation (ZBS) is making.

Banda said this on Monday when she presided over the 2013 Best Girl Awards at Ludzi Girls Secondary School in Mchinji organised by Zodiak.

The best three girls who scooped six points each were awarded a scholarship to study in China by the Chinese Government two from Ludzi Girls Secondary School Cecilia Chipeta amd Thokozile Mazuma, and Temwanani Msiska from Mary Mount Catholic Secondary School.

Vitumbiko Munthali from Ludzi, Martha Njolomole from St Marys girls secondary school and Sandra Lupale from St Michaels secondary school were the three girls who were surprised by the President to study in the USA as they came second and scored seven points each.

“Zodiak has played and continues to play a critical role in ensuring that our democracy is sustained by timely informing the people; remaining nonpartisan and providing a platform for accountability. My Government will continue to ensure that media freedom is sustained in this country,” said the President.

This was the third time the award is celebrated at Ludzi Girls secondary School, one of the best performing girls’ schools in the country.

JB poses with recepients of the awards and their guardians

“Let me take this opportunity to also congratulate the Headmistress, Sister Veronica Massa and her entire staff for producing such high calibre achievers,” said the President.

During the ceremony, three best performing students (six points) in the 2012 Malawi School Leaving Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations were awarded scholarships by the Chinese Embassy in Lilongwe to study in universities in China.

Three others who got seven points had lady luck smiling at them when President Banda announced she would be sending them on a scholarship to study in the United States of America (USA).

ZBS has been recognizing the best Malawi School Certificate of Education female students since 2006 when two female students from St. Mary’s Secondary School got the award. There are currently 8 Malawian students in China studying medicine and economics, among others, owing to Zodiak’s initiative.

“At the heart of my vision as President of the country is to lift people out of poverty through economic empowerment. One powerful way to realize this is to empower people through education. And one of the ways to ensure the benefits of education serve to develop a nation is to educate the girl child,” said President Banda.

“Ensuring our young women stay on at school will transform the nation, she said, adding this reduces the chances of early pregnancy, and ensures that women are adequately prepared to be economically active in their household later on in life, and thereby gives them a voice when it comes to family planning.

“When you are poor and not educated having children becomes the preoccupation of the family. Whereas, when you have been to school and are earning money in a job, you have options in your life. You are able to have a conversation with your husband on how many children to have and when to have them,” said President Banda.

As Head of State, she said she was committed to ensuring that government works tirelessly to improve education for all Malawians, in particular the girl child.

“To do this we are building girls hostels in selected schools, training more teachers and providing materials such as text books, desks and chairs, and promoting the deployment of more teachers to rural areas with an incentive of a rural allowance,” said President Banda, adding that her government is promoting girls’ education through re-admission policy, which allows girls who fall pregnant to go back to school.

Banda also said her government government will with effect from this year start awarding teachers in both primary and secondary schools as one way of promoting education in the country.

Managing Director for ZBS, Gospel Kazako said they introduced the Best Girl Child Award after the station discovered that in Malawi, “women are the most marginalized, oppressed, ignored and usually voiceless”.

“At Zodiak we believe in our women and we are sure that this country has a great opportunity to rise against the roots of any evil bred by gender inequality. We have strong belief that your government will do all it can to make palpable and tangible difference,” said Kazako.

Other speakers included Education Minister Eunice Kazembe, Sister Massa, Rem Ste-Marie, Catholic Archbishop of Lilongwe and Chinese Ambassador to Malawi, Pan Hegun.

One of the girls going on Chinese Scholarship to China

JB confers with ZBS MD Gospel Kadzako

Tears of joy of parents whose three students who got seven points are given scholaships to study in US by JB

JB poses with Ludzi Girls headmistress Sister Veronica Massa and other invited guests

A representative of the best performing students speaks

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