Malawi: Madam Chakwera Wants All Girls to Be in Class

Malawi's First Lady Monica Chakwera has said that it is her desire to see all girls across the country be in school and attain education.

The First Lady says an educated and skilled population, especially girls, will help Malawi achieve accelerated economic growth and attainment of the social economic development goals.

She said it is bad to note that most parents send their children into early marriages just for lobola.

"I want every young girl to be in class and that lobola can wait," said Madam Chakwera.

Making her statement on Friday during the women in leadership networking breakfast meeting in Lilongwe, Chakwera said when women and young girls are empowered, they can greatly contribute to the country's economic growth.

Chakwera said empowering women is the key in addressing ills of poverty and help Malawi as a country to reach the Sustainable Development Goals by ensuring that girls are protected, educated, empowered and in good health.

"I strongly believe that an economically empowered mother will empower her children, will help her children to achieve their full potential, will ably support her girls to stay in school and raise achievers.

"Mothers that are economically empowered are the weapon we need in order to break the cycle of poverty as a country. This is what drives my passion for Girls' education. No girl child should fail to realize her potential because of lack of school fees or necessities at school," she said.

Malawi's net enrolment rate for secondary school stands at 16%, which shows that 84% of 14-17 years old are not in secondary school. Gross enrolment rate for secondary school stands at 27%. This reveals that regardless of age, 73% of children who should have been in secondary school are not in school.

Nationally, 43 out of 100 girls enrolled at primary completed primary school in 2015. For rural girls from the poorest households it was 26. Just 15 out of the 26 girls from the poorest households who complete primary school transition onto secondary school. Of these 15 children just 1 manages to complete lower secondary schooling.

The First Lady said these statistics only reveal that there is a wastage in the system considering that more than half of the population in Malawi are young people.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, if this does not change and we keep on losing hundreds of thousands of girls in early grades, Malawi will unlikely meet the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG 4.1," she said.

She has since called for collaboration and engagement with different stakeholders for the gains in uplifting a girl child to be realised .

"Collaboration and coordination is what we need in order for us to ably tackle challenges that our society is facing. Your presence today has helped to raise funds for a poor child who could not afford to go to school and one who was on the verge of dropping out of school either because of lack of school fees or basic necessities," she said.

The first lady is running "Shaping Our Future Foundation" in her quest to promote girl child education in the country.

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