Concerned by the high school dropout rate among girls in Chikwawa district, Youth Coalition for the Consolidation of Democracy (YCD), on Friday engaged over 30 female teachers from schools around Nchalo Trading Centre in order to help keep the girl child in school.
Speaking at the opening of the training session at their head office in Nchalo, YCD’s Executive Director, Francis Folley said his organization was concerned with the high rate girls were leaving school compared to their male counterparts.
Said Folley; “As a youth institution, we did some baseline survey in schools within Nchalo area and results were that most girls are dropping out of school due to early pregnancies as well as early marriages.
“Sometimes, this could also be because they do not have much attention, let’s say from their teachers around the school.
“We also found out that sometimes this is happening due to some violence they face in schools and having looked at the situation, we discovered that it is so pathetic and we thought of intervening.”
He added that it was sad to note that both in primary as well as secondary schools around their catchment area, there were more boys than girls and when they went into communities to find out why, the responses were that the communities would prefer to invest in education of their sons because they believed sons would benefit them in their education unlike girls.
“This is out of cultural traditions and they are the things that need to be changed, things that need to be ironed out. And our engagement of the female teachers, we believe will help us to do away with the behavior.
“These female teachers after the training should be agents of change. When they get back to their schools they should be able to help the girl child as well as parents of these girls to realize that time has come to start valuing the girl child so that when they are educated they can also do better than their male counterparts,” said Folley.
He further stated that if girls were equipped with the necessary skills they would be so fruitful as well as being economically empowered in future.
“YCD’s mission is to protect the vulnerable children as well as vulnerable youth through education and resource mobilization. So, if you look at our mission, it really does tally with what we are doing today because we want to change the mindset through education.
“The organization also believes it has an obligation to sensitize other youths to help in the change of mindset to say ‘no girls are instruments of marriage.’ Girls are no longer to stay there and prepare for marriages,” concluded Folley.
On her part, Luwiza Chidothi Hijapi, a female teacher from Nyamphota Primary School said the training would indeed help them in alleviating the challenges the girl child faces.
“We are indeed hit by the high rate at which our girls are dropping out of school due to early marriages and early pregnancies and most girls do engage themselves into sexual activities while they are at a tender age before they complete school,” said Hijapi.
She added that all what was happening was as a result of the lack of guidance but was quick to say it was the responsibility of both parents and teachers to counsel the girls.
The training attracted volunteers from USA, Germany and France and it tackled sexual and reproductive health, adolescence as well as sexually transmitted infections and was conducted with support from the US Peace Corps.
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