First Lady urges protection of Malawi girls against child marriage: Hails Zodiak awards

First Lady Gertrude Mutharika has expressed concern over the growing tendency by some parents who are influencing their children to marry at a tender age at the expense of education.

First Lady presents certificate to one of the awardees-Photo by Mayamiko Wallace, Mana
First Lady interacts with some St Marys Secvondary School students in the lab-Photo by Mayamiko Wallace, Mana

Madam Mutharika expresses the concern during an award ceremony of 10 girls who scored six points during last year’s Malawi School Certificate of Examinations (MSCE) under Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS)’s initiative called Top Girl Award at St Mary’s Secondary school in Zomba.

She said “47 per cent of girls get married before reaching the age of 18,” while acknowledging the corporate and social responsibility initiatives that are at play in the country to break the trend.

Six girls from St Mary’s Secondary School and four other girls from St Michael’s, Ludzi Girls, Nkhamenya and Mary Mount received assorted gifts that ranged from laptop computers and bags from the First Lady as a token of appreciation for their hard work.

Mutharika then commended ZBS for recognizing the high performance girls are displaying in education in the country, saying this was a motivation to other girls with similar ambitions.

“Zodiak is not doing this just as a corporate and social responsibility, Zodiak is now a citizen,” the First Lady added.

Mutharika then expressed hope that other stakeholders will emulate ZBS’s zeal and dedication in uplifting girl child education in the country.

The First Lady, who is also an alumni of St Mary’s Secondary School pledged that Beautify Malawi (BEAM) Trust would continue to support girls’ education in the country through provision of scholarships and bursaries to needy learners and with construction of girls hostels to ensure they complete and excel in secondary education.

In his remarks ZBS Managing Director, Gospel Kazako, commended government for being transparent in its scholarship programs, saying learners under government scholarship are selected based on merit and their vulnerability.

“Let scholarships go to children from poor family background,” he said, adding that criteria for awarding scholarship to girls should be based on academic performance as opposed to the family’s economic background.

Kazako said ZBS Top Girl initiative has seen girls studying in the Peoples Republic of China, United Kingdom (UK), USA and Russia while some are enrolled in the country’s university colleges.

He also noted that family responsibilities and child labour were the hindering factors in child education; hence the need for government and other players in the education sector to join hands.

“Girls education is an economic and development issue and we can’t move forward if we continue to ignore girls’ education,’ Kazako added.

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