Government, the United Nations Childrens’ Fund (Unicef), and commercial bank New Finance Bank (NFB) have struck a deal to work together to raise funds for the national trust fund, an initiative aimed at providing access to education for eligible vulnerable girls in the country.
According to the Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Bright Msaka, government welcomes the initiative and hopes that it will assist in addressing the issue of lack of school fees, a major obstacle amongst many other vices keeping young girls in the country out of school.
Speaking at a charity golf organized by the New Finance Bank at Blantyre Sports Club over the weekend, Msaka said apart from cultural beliefs in some communities, the issue of access to education, completion and quality of education are some of the major challenges affecting the girl child from primary, secondary and even at tertiary level.
“All these issues militate against the girl child’s desire to attain quality education,” said Msaka, adding that it is the wish of the government to see that as many girls as boys transition from primary to secondary school, and even further to tertiary level in order to create a productive and self reliant cadre of female citizens.
The Chief Executive Officer of New Finance Bank, Zandile Shaba, said the charity golf is the first step in a long term partnership with Unicef, in an initiative that seeks to strengthen support towards the education of vulnerable girls. She said the initiative provides an opportunity for NFB, a new kid on the block in the country’s financial sector, to invest in the social development of local citizens.
“This speaks to our vision of wanting to make an impact in the lives of the people,” she said.
According to Unicef’s education specialist, Kimanzi Muthengi, the partners would like to increase the size of the National Trust Fund to accommodate more girls. Currently, about 18, 000 female students are under a scholarship scheme agreed between the government, Unicef and the Campaign for Female Education (Camfed).
Currently, Malawi has about 500, 000 students in secondary school. Out of that number, about 200, 000 are girls. According to Muthengi, the number of girls being assisted under the scholarship scheme is just a mere drop compared to the need out there.
“We are partner of choice to the government,” said Muthengi, adding that Unicef is reaching out to the private sector to support the initiative. To support the National Trust Fund, Unicef currently makes an annual contribution of US$1 million (approximately K734 million).
A group of several senior lady golfers, such as Rosa Mbilizi—who is also championing education of the girl child—turned out to play in support of the initiative and most reiterated their commitment towards the promotion of education for vulnerable female students. Apart from grooming young girls as future lady golfers, the group also offers parenting to ensure that girls from disadvantaged communities achieve their dreams.
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