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First Lady bemoans access to secondary schools

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First Lady Monica Chakwera has cited low access to secondary education among factors that are frustrating stakeholders’ efforts to have many girls complete their education.

Figures indicate that Malawi has about 5.4 million learners in primary school and 415,000 in secondary school, which means there is a low transition rate from primary to secondary school.

Chakwera raised the concern at Chinyoli school ground in Rumphi District, where she commissioned Jalira Girls Secondary School construction works.

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The school, which will be constructed within four years, will also have a women’s technical college and community clinic, among other facilities.

The project is being constructed under Chakwera’s Shaping Our Future Foundation in partnership with The Seeds charity organisation, and will see about 400 girls being enrolled in a year.

“If Malawi is to realise her dream of introducing 12 years of compulsory education for her youths, more infrastructure is required at both primary and secondary subsectors in a bid to increase access,” she said.

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Emphasising her point, Chakwera said, in 2021, there were 8,596 learners, 3,938 of whom girls, enrolled in secondary schools in Rumphi, an indication that girls require more space.

She also, she said almost 50 percent of the students who dropped out of school in the same year were girls, who will need space if enrolled back.

Education Deputy Minister Monica Chang’anamuno said access to secondary school education remains poor among girls.

“And if you look at those who sit standard eight examinations, only 37 percent are the ones that go to secondary school. The 63 percent are also eligible but they are denied [the opportunity] because of limited space. That is why we need other stakeholders to help us, the government, so that the numbers can be increased,” he said.

The Seeds founder Ruth Baek concurred.

She said her vision is to see all girls in the country being educated.

The school is being constructed on a 20-hectare piece of land and works are expected to commence next week, with the first stream of classes expected to start next year.

After the construction of Jalira Girls Secondary School, the number of conventional secondary schools will go up from three to four in Rumphi.

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