Gender Based Violence (GBV) cases are decreasing amongst the school going pupils in Dowa district, thanks to human rights and theology program by Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) which has seen the number of enrollment increasing.
In an interview after two-day GBV sensitisation sessions in the area of Traditional Authority Nsakambewa, Dowa Acting District Manager Joseph Chafukira said since the program started, the pupil enrollment has increased while the dropouts decreased.
He said the dropouts rate which stood out at 16 percent is now at now 12 percent in the district which has 237 public primary schools against 33 public community day secondary schools.
Chafukira said the development was a result of concerted efforts by both school, community, religious leaders and parents.
“This project has managed to bring different players in the same course which has made it simple for early positive results. Before the chiefs, parents and religious leaders joined in, we had difficulties on how to reach out to the communities to sensitize them how gender based violence is keeping away children, especially girls from school,” he said.
Among other cases, Chafukila singled out sexual harrasment, early marriages and teenage pregnancies as the main causes of school dropouts.
“There are also cases of long distances between schools which has forced some parents to send their children on self boarding closer to schools which make it difficult to control them but now we are assured with the trainings, we are assures that they are under the watch of the whole community,” said Chafukila adding that shortage of sanitary facilities and harsh punishments by teachers also contributed to the rising number of school dropouts.
He added that so far, the communities have established task groups at village and TA levels that acts as watchdogs on gender based cases.
MCC Projects Officer Mtheto Lungu said the program targets Church leaders, primary education advisors, community policing, district welfare officers, Teacher Parent Associations and mother groups.
He said since the commencement of the project, a lot has changed in the area as “a lot of people are able to come forward to report cased of gender based violence” be it physical or psychological.
In Dowa district, the project is being carried out in the are of TA Nsakambewa
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