IMPROVING A GIRL-CHILD EDUCATION IN MALAWI

INTRODUCTION

The majority of Malawi’s population is female and being a young population it translates that the majority are girls. Saddening is that these girls face so many challenges that affect their realisation of full potential in womanhood. The challenges range from culture, income and biological. Culture has largely placed a girl child at the vulnerable position, which has resulted to low education outcomes among females. From statistics evidence indicate low literacy rates among females. Boys are given priority in access, attendance, and support in education within the family setup.

Interms of income, females are confined to enterprises that pays lowly. This coupled with culture, male chauvinism, once they are married, the husband controls their income. As such they are alienated from their own reward. Lastly, biological challenges especially women season, which is the pride of womanhood, has also pushed them out of school because of restlessness and associated self image.

Many organisations have tried to help these Girls starting with Girls Enhancement in Basic and Literacy Education (GABLE) in the early 90s to Campaign For Girls Education (CAMFED) in the present. One thing that stands out is that their approach has not been all inclusive in the programming and concentration has been country wide which might not bring out a needed change within a particular community like Nkhatabay where girls’ education remains very low. Within Nkhatabay, many girls are challenged in education; the rate of drop out and poor performances in schools has been increasing year after year. This calls for immediate action. Its better now than later. The focus should be three fold; Enrolment Retention Skilling.

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Malawian Girls in Kande Village – Currently being supported by MoreThanAid to Fund for their own Education 

 

ENROLMENT

Access and enrolment to schools has to be the strengthened especially for girls in NEET (not in education, not in employment, not in training).

This has to be done in two fold: guidance and counseling and provision of bursaries. The criterion for identification will be those who are not in school or else in school, but identified as needy, at the verge of dropping, or else dropped out but have the will to go back to school, through the community committees who are in education like Mother Groups under Female Advancement for Women Education in Malawi (FAWEMA).

RETENTION

Retention is perceived to be one of the greatest challenge in such programs. Despite being taken back to school, the girls will need further support to keep them in school. The bursary should also help in this aspect. Despite bursaries it has also been noticed that drop out rates can further increase either for the beneficiaries, or those who are in the system. This therefore means though girls can be under such support, they are still susceptible to some challenges. Among the common challenges that can be easily identified is increase in drop out drop due to early pregnancies.

Most of girls get involved in affairs that would generate some income for their day to day needs and uplifting of standard. Beyond the income, due to the change in lifestyle girls are under pressure for change.There is identity crisis which is coupled by adolescence and associated demands. These factors have greatly affected retention rates.

Secondly, families where they come from have adverse effect on retention rate. As part of household labour, girls are being over burdened with household work.Boys can be allowed to be in school while girls are home to serve their families including the boys who are in school. If there is a school fees challenge in the home, girls are the ones who are first taken out of school. The common belief is that men will be responsible for their families while the girls will get married and their husband will be responsible for them.

Much appreciation is therefore needed that a girl requires more than financial support. More support will therefore be needed morally and socially if they are to be kept in school.

To support retention therefore all girls under the anticipated program need to be encouraged by bringing role models, addressing their issues on 101 talks. This can be achieved by working with Parents Teachers Association (PTA), the school manager(to identify those who are about to drop), mother groups such as FAWEMA.

Control Measure

As a control measure to reduce the exposure to men these girls need to be provided with experience in different occupations especially during holidays and at their free time. This will be a support for increased income now and after school. It is believed that once a skill is attained is attained for good. The program will therefore need to introduce occupations like craft work which will address aspects of weaving and bracelets making, tailoring and farming. The last two occupations will be offered with possible certification from TEVET Authority under non-formal sector training programs.

 

Tailoring

They would make products like uniforms which could be supplied to various schools and production of re-usable pads for girls menstruation materials ( not all girls manage to buy pads and this is a challenge to most the girls).

Income realized from the sale of their products would be categorized into three;

  1. 60% would takecare of their present situations
  2. 20% would be deposited to their various accounts with a condition that it will be only accessed when she completes her education. These same funds would support a girl when she moves to tertiary education.
  3. 20% revolving for the continuation of the bursary.

 

Farming

These girls need to know how to manage their own gardens. They would be growing vegetables which would also be sold to increase their income.

Note: Chiefs have already provided a wetland for farming while the other part can be used for some programs.

Production of bracelets

Some of the girls would be making products which could be sold internationally such as bracelets. The funds realized from these products would sustain the viability of the organizationand the girls as stipulated above.

 

SKILLING

After finishing their secondary education, they would be linked with other organization such as TEVET Authority for further tertiary education where need be, and also other institutions which can support them until funding within the program permits.

CONCLUSION

Enrolment, retention and skilling are the major attributes to improve a girl child education. A girl would turn to a virtuous woman of the nation. A virtuous woman would support her family andFamily is a source of the nation. This is my deep felt and hearts desire to uplift a life of one girl in the village in Nkhatabay one of the beautiful and beckoning places in Malawi. Learn more about Nkatabay via Malawi Tourism here!

Blog Post Written by Nellie HarawaMoreThanAid Program Coordinator 

Can you contribute to any of the Social Enterprise Initiative highlighted in this blog post? We would love to hear from you. Connect with us via  MoreThanAid Facebook Here!

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