While the novel COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect economies of the world and education due to suspension of schools, it is likely girls in the country’s rural areas may drop out of school in search of greener pasture.
Lilongwe District Commissioner, Lawford Palani said the rural setting highly contributes to young girls engaging in immoral behaviour in search of money, especially now that they have nothing to do.
Palani said currently, most children in the urban have access to online classes and a privilege of being taught by their parents who are mostly a working class.
The DC said parents in town have access to internet, therefore, they allow their kids to access online classes prepared by teachers in their respective schools.
“It is now a month since schools closed and I am aware that most rural kids have no access to any school work. This is very worrisome as it defeats the fight against school dropouts, especially among girls.
“We expect a lot of dropouts because economically, most parents are not able to provide the girls with the necessities they need,” said Palani.
He further said with tobacco sales in progress, girls are at risk of being coaxed with money which results in early marriages and unwanted pregnancies.
Palani also said it is challenging to note that those that have access to online classes and those in the villages will sit for the same examinations. This may give those in town a higher chance of outshining pupils in rural areas.
“I am mindful of government programs to support a girl child. However, I urge all partners to continue with initiatives that will help our girls to stay in school no matter the circumstances while we continue observing the COVID-19 [prevention] measures,” said Palani.
He said there is need for stakeholders to introduce deliberate measures that will make girls busy and in the mood to continue with their education.
Melifa Katanda, a standard seven pupil at Mzobwe Primary School in Traditional Authority Kalolo in Lilongwe said much as most girls would love to stay in school, there are circumstances that may contribute to a number of them dropping out of school.
According to Katanda, the girls are now forced to switch off their minds from any school- related activity.
“Not all of us will decide to wait for schools to open, others will be impregnated and end up in early marriages,” she said.
Katanda said instead of being confined in their homes, most girls now have a lot of time to roam around in trading centres, exposing themselves to sugar daddies and boys.
She explained that since most parents are not capable of providing them with the necessities, they find boyfriends, especially now that they are just staying at home, helping their parents with businesses or household chores.
Commenting on the issue, spokesperson for the Ministry Education, Science and Technology, Chikondi Chimala said government is aware of the gap between pupils in the two settings.
He said government has developed lessons that are being delivered through radio and television so that those that do not have access to online sessions do not feel disadvantaged.
He said the ministry is also developing lessons delivered through printed study materials that will be distributed directly to students, especially in remote and hard-to-reach areas that cannot access lessons through technology-linked interventions.
“We hope that the interventions will go a long way to meet the needs of pupils in rural areas so that they are able to catch up with pupils in urban areas.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :