Yao Paramount Chief Kawinga shocked with teen pregnancies: Orders ban on early marriages

Paramount Chief Kawinga, who is on a tour of all Yao Chiefs areas to appreciate the challenges young girls have faced as a result of closure of schools following the Covid-19 pandemic, said he is shocked that his jurisdiction alone has reported 400 teen pregnancies.

Paramount Chief Kawinga
Minister of Education NyaLonje encouraging girls to concentrate on school

Paramount Kawinga said this at Mlozi Primary School after touring  Senior Chief Tambala’s jurisdiction in Dedza District on Saturday, October 3, saying these teen pregnancy figure is too much and has since called on all traditional leaders to guard girls against early marriages.

He has started his tour with Dedza and will proceed with Salima and other Yao chief communities.

“I have been hearing reports of early pregnancies following the coming of COVID-19 pandemic, so I came to visit my chiefs to discuss this at length and find a lasting solution, which is to protect the girl child by encouraging parents to be strict with their children’s social behaviour.”

Accompanying Paramount Kawinga was spokesperson of Chiwanja Cha Ayao, Rev. McDonald Sembereka, who took cognizance that the early marriages situation was indeed alarming in Yao predominant areas.

He said his grouping has now engaged with chiefs encouraging them to resend all girls who have dropped from school due to Covid-19 related effects.

Sembereka said all chiefs have already agreed to work with their subjects on this so that no girl child misses classes due to the pandemic effects.

Royal member of the Tambala dynasty, Kayisi Sadala commended Paramount Kawinga for the visit, saying as a family they are very happy and encouraged with the visit.

During the visit there were different performances of different traditional dances including Sadala’s lecture of detailed history of the Tambala chieftaincy.

Teen marriages have almost doubled in most parts of Malawi during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to reported figures, and even before the pandemic, around half of all girls in Malawi got married before the age of 18.

The situation worsened dramatically as a result of the school closures and rise in poverty linked to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Last week, Minister of Education, Agnes NyaLonje expressed concerned that a number of girl candidates did not turn up for the 2020 Primary School Leaving Certificate Examinations (PSLCE) because some of them got pregnant whilst others got married.

The academic institutions were reopened only for examination classes on September 7 as the strong wave of locally transmitted infections is declining.

After visiting some PSLCE cluster centers in Nkhata Bay and Mzuzu City, NyaLonje said regrettable that some girl candidates failed to sit for the examinations even though the Ministry had encouraged those who dropped out to still sit for the examinations even though they fell pregnant and were forced to get married.

She had said the girls saying education is paramount above their conditions and that they will need education for them to fend for their children and families in future.

“As we prepare for Malawi School Certificate of Education Examinations, my Ministry will continue engaging non-governmental organisations and mother groups and other stakeholders to encourage girls who may be found in such conditions to sit for the examinations,” she had assured.

The Minister said she had been impressed to note that the majority of the girl candidates turned up for the examinations, which ended on Thursday, October 2.

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