Rise in child marriages worries Malawi Catholic Church

The Education Commission of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) has expressed worry over the increased growing rate of child marriages especially girls in the country.

ECM’s National Education Programme Coordinator, Steven Ndlovu said the development may negatively affect girls’ education if not proper checked.

He said statistics indicates that Malawi is amongst the ten countries in the world with highest rate of child marriages which is currently at almost 50 percent.

“As ECM Education Office, through various literatures that we have gone through observe that there is a high child marriage rate in the country which is mainly affecting our girls hence the need to check on this by among others promoting girls education. Currently the rate is at 50 percent meaning that girls below the ages of 18 are getting married rather than attaining to education,” said Ndlovu.

Nhlovu: Child marriage is a hindrance to the country’s meeting the millennium development goals

According to Ndlovu, the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy, goal number two stipulates the need to “achieving education for all” but with the current situation, it is so doubtful if Malawi as a nation will achieve this goal by 2015.

“What we mean here is that we should create a conducive environment to our girls as a way of making sure that there is access to universal basic education that will enable our children go to school rather that getting married before finishing school,” he said.

In a bid to arrest the challenge however, ECM has developed a national programme which is currently seeking funding from the donor partners aimed at promoting and safe guarding girls’ education.

Ndlovu said the program which has been designed to lobby for constitutional change on marriage act is now at an advanced stage and soon it will be shared out to the donor partners to come in and assist.

He said the program will strive to make communities raise awareness on the re-admission policy in the Ministry of Education hence promote the initiative.

“Our program which is not only targeting Catholics but carters for every Malawian child in the country will among others engage girls and boys to participate in different activities through radio and stage drama competitions which will be centered on child marriage issues. By so doing, issues that affect our boys and girls will best be presented by themselves and later be dealt with by our policy makers, religious leaders and politicians among others,” said Ndlovu

He said the program will provide a platform for a girl child to express what she or her friend go through to competently move or influence the country’s leadership be it in the church or government to consider rescuing the danger.

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