Malawi gov’t asked to expedite compulsory education bill

The Malawi Human Right Commission (MHRS) has asked Government to speed up the enactment of the Compulsory Education bill if more children including girls who are prone to early marriages are to be lured back into school.

Members of Parliament (MPs) referred back the bill to the parliamentary committee on education to iron put some gray areas during the 2013/14 budget which is currently seating.

MHRC commissioner Rodgers Newa noted that though the bill has some areas that need ironing out the parliamentary committee on education can expedite the process so that it can be tabled again during the current seating of the August House.

“We still have the time before parliament rises to bring back that all important bill for MPs authorisation but what is needed is for the committee to expedite the process of correcting the areas that were highlighted,” observed Newa in an interview on the sidelines of this year’s Day of the African Child commemorations.

Newa: Let Parliament pass the bill
Newa: Let Parliament pass the bill

He said if passed the bill would provide the necessary enforcement mechanism for children to be in school which the country has lacked despite the introduction of free primary education.

Newa said this has left more children in homes than in school leading to increased literacy levels in the country and more girls susceptible to early marriages exposing them to more abuses.

Noted Newa: “With the law in place children will appreciate more being in school that at home and in particular girls who are at the danger of rights’ violations if married at a tender age.”

Asked whether with the piece of legislation in place Malawi will not be replicating infrastructural challenges that came with the introduction of free primary education introduced by the Bakili Muluzi administration in 1994, Newa said the country does not need to have all the resources to put every child in school, but the strategy on how to apply the principle.

“The idea is feasible if Government implements compulsory education in phases but the country can not wait for the country to have enough teachers and learning materials, infrastructure and other resources,” said the MHRC commissioner adding that the state must also invest more in education for it to have an excellent education system.

On this year’s Day of the African Child, Newa asked for a speedy scrutiny of the country’s legislation that allows children to get married at a tender age. He could not elaborate.

He also called for a complete overhaul of the education bill noting that the 1962 education act that the country is using has left a lot to be desired with the current changing times.—Malawi News Agency

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