Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHHR) has stressed the importance of empowering primary school learners with basic human rights principles for them to be assertive.
Machinga CHRR Project Officer, Stain Katuli, made the observation on Sunday during a two-day training workshop on child rights in Liwonde, Machinga, with focus on sexuality, leadership and advocacy.
Katuli said most girls were dropping out of school because they did not have adequate knowledge of their human rights, noting that most child marriages and early pregnancies were as a result of influence of some cultural practices.
He said the training was part of the ‘Yes I Do’ project CHRR is implementing in Traditional Authority Liwonde in the district which aims at empowering learners, especially girls, to have requisite knowledge and skills to be change agents in their respective communities.
“The trend where more girls are leaving school for either marriage or due to pregnancy is a source of concern to us. We would like to protect girls to remain in school and excel in their education to realise their dreams,” Katuli said.
He said CHHR’s priority was to ensure that children are well trained on their rights since child marriages and teen pregnancies border on human rights. He therefore appealed to the project beneficiaries to be responsible in life and overcome peer pressure.
“Report any type of abuse to relevant authorities,” Katuli said, adding that CHRR had already trained traditional leaders, traditional counsellors and primary school teachers on child rights issues.
Kambewe Primary School Patron, Phillip Mponela, commended CHRR for training the learners on human rights, saying it was important to equip the learners, particularly girls, to remain in school and achieve more in life.
Mponela expressed hope that the girls would be effectively empowered to resist child marriages and teen pregnancies because they would have a clear understanding of the reality of pregnancy-related complications, such as fistula.
One of the participants to the training, Catherine Milopo, said the training on child rights was necessary considering that most girls fall prey to sexual related crimes since culprits take advantage of the girls’ ignorance of their rights.
It is expected, according to Katuli, that the trained learners would further sensitise fellow learners in their respective schools on child rights and on the impact of child marriages and teen pregnancies.