The Catholic Education Commission (CEC) of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi has embarked on a capacity building project for the youth especially students at St Mary’s Girls Catholic Secondary School, Zomba Boys Catholic Secondary and Chancellor College to enable them to effectively engage in governance and national budgetary process.
National Educational Secretary,Brother Pascal Mtuwana said the project which is jointly being implemented by the Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN), Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and Catholic Education Commission (CEC) with funding from European Union through Trocaire is aimed at empowering the youth demand services from duty bearers.
“Through this project, issues of justice, human rights and gender will be translated into accessible and youth-relevant materials that enable students to take up their role as activists for global justice,” said Bro. Mtuwana.
He said the project which is being implemented in Zomba has also an intended audience of national coverage through various print and electronic media outlets.
“During the project’s needs assessment we found out that National and Daily Times Newspapers in the print industry and Radio Maria, Zodiak Broadcasting Station and YONECO FM in the electronic industry are the most like media channels among the youthshence the reason they are eye marked to advance publicity,” he said adding that, so far journalists drawn from these media houses have already been drilled to effectively cover the project’s activities.
National Project’s Coordinator for CEC, Cresensia Kansale said the training manual being used, civic education and debate sessions were designed in such a way that they are youth friendly, and effective in advocating for to the Local Governance Accountability and gender-responsive local governance in Malawi among the youth.
“We havealready conductedtwo civic education sessions on Local Government (roles and responsibilities of local councils, budgetary processes) and the Local Governance Advocacy with secondary school students at Zomba Catholic Secondary School and; University students at Chancellor College. We have also had debates on the same and the outcome has so far been good,” she said.
Meanwhile,both St Mary’s and Zomba Catholic Secondary School students have commended the coming in of the project.
“This is an eye opener to us as students and the youths in general. We ought to be engaged and consulted in every democratic process as we constitute a larger population in the country,”said HellenKapile of St. Mary’s Secondary School.
In recent debates held between students at St. Mary’s and Zomba Catholic Secondary Schools and within Chancellor College, a topic under discussion was whether Traditional Authorities should replace Members of Parliament as voting members of the council.
“I think its high time Traditional Leaders started voting at council meeting because they are the ones who stay closely with the people. It is unlike Members of Parliament who most of them stay in towns and cities hence do not have the welfare of people at heart,’ urged Andrew Chidothi of Zomba Catholic Secondary School who was the Chief Proposer during the debate.
At the end of it all,St. Mary’s Girls Catholic Secondary School emerged winners defeating Zomba Boys Catholic Secondary School popularly known as Box 2 by 40 against 36 points.
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