By Jecina Chikwelete
As the country still strives to promote girl child education, statistics indicate that the rate of school dropouts is on the rise among girls, much to the concern of several stakeholders.
A 3 day Women’s Conference held last week revealed that out of 29% of girls who enroll in schools, only 13% attend classes, but only 5% graduate.
As organizations and other stakeholders continue promoting girl child education in the country, it has been revealed that only a few girls make it to the tertiary level.
Several stakeholders have described this development as worrying and a huge setback.
Poverty is said to be the main contributing factor to school dropouts among girls since a lot of families cannot afford to pay school fees for the girl child and in some circumstances some parents deliberately choose to support the boy child over the girls child in their pursuit of education.
This situation has forced First Lady Monica Chakwera to ask the private sector to lender a helping hand in promoting girl child education in the country.
Chakwera made the appeal on Friday in Lilongwe during a girls’ conference when she was presiding over the launch of the Education Plus Initiative.
Another shocking truth is that there is a high rate of teenage pregnancies and sexual harassment in the country, which further marginalizes the girl child. Statistics show that one 5th of girls are sexually abused before reaching the age of 18. It is also disturbing to note that 29% of girls under the age of 18 are impregnated.
From this background, Chakwera said the newly-launched Education Plus Initiative and the dialogue between stakeholders has established a basis for an action plan on the implementation of Generation Equality commitments.
On her part, former President Dr. Joyce Banda, who is also Chairperson of Women’s Empowerment and Development (WED)Africa—Asia advised girls to brand themselves and draft their own mission statement on what they want to become.
She further advised the girls to associate themselves with achievers and people who will actually tell them things that will motivate them and help them.
The first Intergenerational Dialogue on Generation Equality and Women’s Leadership Conference attracted girls from different backgrounds aged between 15 AND 20 and women leaders as one way of inspiring them.