Despite bold steps taken by various stakeholders in reducing cases of child and forced marriages Ntcheu district is registering increased cases of early marriages due to early pregnancies forcing many girls out of school.
A baseline survey which was conducted by Save the Children prior to implementation of Reducing Teenage Pregnancy project reveals that Ntcheu has a high school dropout rate of 23% overall. This is attributed to several reasons among them teenage pregnancies, poverty, lack of parental care, support and guidance and early marriages.
However, the district has been receiving various reports on cases of early marriage hence the need for intensive awareness campaigns so that girls remain in school. These cases are registered at a time marriage law is in place since it was passed by parliament that no child below the age of 18 shall be allowed to get married.
Ntcheu district Social Welfare Officer, Mike Makalande hailed Child protection
Committees, Child protection Workers, Save the Children, Youth Net and Counseling (YONECO) and Police among other stakeholders by following up such cases.
Makalande said a girl child needs to be protected from getting married at a tender age by admitting her back to school so that she attains high level of education.
“Children as far as 10 to 15 years old are marrying older men the size of their father. This is a very worrisome development especially this time when government is trying its best in making sure that girls are empowered through education,” said Makalande.
Youth Net and Counseling (YONECO) said last year alone, they withdrew about 68 children from Child marriages which is an indication that these cases are on the increase in the district.
Speaking to Nyasa Times, YONECO’s district Manager for Ntcheu, Mrs Sewenthe Chipofya said it is worrisome that despite all the efforts in trying to keep girls in school, cases of early pregnancies are on the increase hence resulting to school dropout among most young girls.
“Issues of Child marriages needs concerted efforts as they are done at various levels,” said Chipofya.
Save the Children is in a three year project called ‘Reducing Teen Age Pregnancies’ with the aim of reducing teen age pregnancies so that girls attain high level education.
The objectives of the project include; reducing girls school drop outs, increasing re-entry rates after delivery and increasing access to use of key sexual reproductive health services among the girls.
The project also seeks to improve learning environment and girl’s efficacy, improved access to high quality SRH services for adolescent girls among others.
The project is funded by NORAD.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :