Chikhwawa girls to go back to school after pregnancies

Adolescent girls in the area of traditional authority Masache in Chikhwawa who dropped out of school due to pregnancies and early marriages have been tipped to go back to school through the Joint United Nations Programme on Adolecent Girls (JPAG).

The programme which is being implemented in the district started in 2011 and it is encouraging all adolescent girls to go back to school by paying them school fees and providing girls with school materials.

In his remarks during JPAG open days which were conducted on December 4-5  in the areas of Senior Group Village Headman Lombe and Konzele, Chikhwawa District Youth Officer, Baldwin Mkumbadzala who is also JPAG Coordinator for the district urged parents and guardians in the area of Sub- Chief Masache to send girl child to school.

He said since the introduction of JPAG programme in the district many girls in the area of Sub-traditional authority Masache have gone back to school.

Another beneficiary Charity Mavuto of Masache in Chikwawa who dropped out from primary school, got married and has two children said she is now able to provide for her family after she joined a JPAG out of school girls’ club where she learnt farming, baking, tailoring and hair dressing.

“Under this programme girls are being paid school fees and they are also being provided with school materials such as school uniforms, school shoes, books and other basic needs of their lives. Some girls have also being trained in various vocational training such as tailoring, hair dressing, baking and electrical engineering and others have been empowered economically with capital to start up Small Medium Entrepreneurships,” he said.

Chikhwawa District Community Development Officer, Hilda Sambankunsi said investing in girl child in education is like educating the whole nation at large.

“My appeal to young girls is that they should report any sexual harassment to nearest Police Victim Support Unit and traditional leaders to act on the matter. I know that adolescent girls are facing a lot of hurdles from elders even their parents and guardians,” she said.

Sambankunsi said if more girls are properly educated it wouldn’t be difficult to full 50-50 gender campaign which is aimed at promoting women in to decision making positions.

On his part Senior Group Village Headman Lombe described JPAG programme as successful one as he said it has changed lives of many girls who once drop out of school either because of early pregnancies and marriages.

He said since the introduction of JPAG programme his area has not recorded any case regarding forced marriages.

Representative of District Commissioner for Chikhwawa District, Kelvin Harawa who is Director of Planning and Development for the district hailed JPAG as he said it has helped to reduce cases of early marriages and unplanned pregnancies in the district.

Harawa appealed to traditional leaders, parents and guardians to work together and find lasting solution of reducing early marriages and pregnancies in their areas.

Ministry of Youth and Development is working hand in hand with Ministry of Community and Development, Social Welfare, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health in implementing the programme in the district.

JPAG major financial partners are UNFPA, Unicef, WHO and UNESCO and the project is being implemented in two districts namely; Chikhwawa in the area of Sub-TA Masache and Mangochi in the area of Traditional Authority Katuli.

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