St. Mary’s dominates ZBS’ 2022 Top Girl Child awards

Of the nine students who scored an amazing 9 points in the 2022 Malawi School’s Certificate of Education (MSCE), three were from St. Mary’s Girls Secondary School in Zomba as the outstanding achievers received special recognition from Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) Top Girl Child awards.

The award ceremony took place at St. Mary’s itself on Friday, whose guest of honour was an outstanding woman achiever and renowned girl child motivator, Edith Jiya — Old Malawi Group chief executive officer.

Guest of honour Edith Jiya (in black) together with the awardees

The three St. Mary’s achievers are Halima Yasin, Demetria Musaya and Margaret Nyasulu with one each from Bakhita Girls (Tamika Phiri); Ludzi Girls (Maureen Chingonga); Nkhamenya Girls (Rejoice Ngulube); Lilongwe Girls (Yankho Maonga); Loyola Jesuits in Kasungu (Mercy Honde); and St. Mary’s Karonga (Khumbo Makwenda).

Each received a trophy, medal, certificate of excellence and K100,000 cash and on top of that Plan Malawi International — which partners Zodiak in organising the annual event — gave each awardee K50,000 cash.

And from the nine, Plan Malawi International — which advocates for the rights of the girl child’s academic excellence — will access vulnerabilities of the awardees from which five shall be granted scholarships for the tertiary education.

Another partner is Malawi-Liverpool Wellcome Trust, which also gave each awardee K50,000 which is also recognition that all nine awardees are going to pursue medical studies. The Trust initiated a special programme, ‘Science for All’ to encourage more girl to participate in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-inclined roles.

K1 million reward from Kazako

The guest of honour, Jiya also announced a donation from Old Mutual (Malawi) Limited of K100,000 to each of the awardees as Unit Trusts investment as their start-up saving and investment journey.

It was such a glamorous event as has been since its launch in 2007 by Zodiak’s Founder, Gospel Kazako and in recognition of exceptional MSCE performances by St. Mary’s he encouraged that the ceremony should be hosted by the school.

Representing Kazako, ZBS’ Director Beatrice Nsindira announced that the former Minister of Information decided to award the teachers with K1 million to be shared by themselves, saying he takes special recognition that since opening its doors St. Mary’s has always produced excellent results.

The gesture from Kazako was received with a shrill of applause from the school’s students as well as when guest of honour, Edith Jiya, was introduced as an outstanding woman achiever and renowned girl child motivator.

In his inspirational speech, Jiya took cognizance of the fact that the inaugural event was held at St Mary in 2007 and and returning to Zomba for the 2022 awards “signifies that the school continues to perform exceptionally well in national examinations”

“This initiative gives me particular joy in that for a long time in Malawi, secondary school enrolment continues to be dominated by boys,” she said. “Keeping girls that enroll in secondary is a challenge as girls who start secondary education drop out mainly because of financial hardship, teenage pregnancy, and marriage.

Inaugural awards winner in 2007, Wezzie Kamanga Kachitsa

“This initiative is one way of ensuring girls not only remain in school, but also perform well. Keeping girls in school is one of the best ways to end child marriage and early childbearing.

“Each year of secondary education may reduce the likelihood of marrying as a child or having a first child before the age of 18 by 6% points on average. I would therefore want to thank all the schools where our awardees are coming from for producing the wonderful results in the year 2022.”

She also highlighted that each passing day, “girls face barriers to education caused by poverty, cultural norms and practices, poor infrastructure, violence and fragility. Violence also prevents girls from accessing and completing education — often girls are forced to walk long distances to school placing them at an increased risk of violence and many experience violence while at school.

“In fact, the World Bank indicates that approximately 60 million girls are sexually assaulted on their way to or at school every year around the world. This often has serious consequences for their mental and physical health and overall well-being while also leading to lower attendance and higher dropout rates.”

“We need to invest in education through infrastructure to avoid incidences where girls are attacked on their way to school.  We are still in shock following the unfortunate incident which happened in Thyolo in January, where a girl — who was a learner at Ntambanyama Primary School — was abducted after she had attended part-time lessons on January 16, 2023.

“It is sad that we lost a 12-year-old who could have played a part in the development of the country. This is one case of many supporting the data from the World Bank.”

Present as another motivation was one of the inaugural ZBS’ 2007 Top Girl Child awardee, Wezzie Kamanga Kachitsa, who went on to become a medical doctor which she attained through a scholarship she won for her excellent MSCE results of 8 points from 8 subjects she sat for at Mary Mount Girls.

She studied her degree in medicine at South East University in China and she told the young minds that she won numerous awards during her studies there including being the best result from the foreign students cohort.

“I was here as an awardee and it gives me great pride to be amongst you as ZBS continues with the awards 15 years down the memory lane,” she said. “I want to give you all here a message of hope because my journey to attained a medical doctorate was not easy.

“So will it be for all of you. This award should not be treated as just a prestige but as a responsibility. It’s a responsibility because everyone will be looking upon you to maintain your excellence going forward.

“Success is not a straight-forward path but it is full of challenges. Use your challenges as stepping stones to achieve greater heights,” she said.

The event was spiced by excellently choreographed dance performances and an inspiring poetry recital — which were immensely applauded for by the guest of the honour, Jiya — who lauded Zodiak Broadcasting Station “for coming up with this great initiative which supports girls’ education and their future economic empowerment”.

In announcing the donation of the Unit Trusts investment, Jiya explained that while education makes a lasting difference in generations, it also puts people on a path towards good health, empowerment and employment.

“Coming from the Financial Services sector I would like to add that on top of the mainstream education, financial education also makes a difference. It has proved that individuals that have the right information and perceptions on how to manage their personal finances are empowered to make sound financial decisions.

“As a business we are committed to reaching out to many Malawians with financial education to impart positive behaviors towards money,” she said.

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