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Inadequate secondary schools fuelling child marriages in Chikwawa

Education authorities in Chikwawa have cited inadequate secondary schools as one of the factors fueling cases of child marriages in the district.

For instance, Kakoma Education Zone has one community day secondary school against 10 feeding primary schools, a development that, according to Primary Education Advisor (PEA) for the area, Andrew Messa, is forcing children into early marriages.

Messa made the remarks over the weekend during the district’s campaign on ending child marriages organised by the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (Repssi) in conjunction with Forum for African Women Educationalists in Malawi (Fawema).

He said last year’s Standard Eight results from Kakoma zone showed that only 108 pupils out of the 414 that passed got selected.

“What it means is that over 300 pupils are just idle because they could not be enrolled in secondary schools. Last year we managed to write a letter, through the DEM [District Education Manager], to the division for them to consider increasing intake at Kakoma CDSS from the current 50 to 120. However, the division has said it is impossible due to inadequate infrastructure there,” Messa said.

The PEA also said most public primary schools lack basic infrastructure such as classrooms, which forces adolescent girls to drop out of school due to compromised hygiene practices.

Repssi Country Director, George Alufandika, and Senior Supervisor at Chikwawa DEM office, Rhoda Makwiti, also cited cultural beliefs and poverty as some of the contributing factors to rising cases of child marriages.

Alufandika said his organisation has intensified campaigns to help raise awareness on the need to end child marriages in Chikwawa and Malawi as a whole.

The ‘End Child Marriage in Malawi’ campaign was held in Kakoma and Mapelera education zones in Chikwawa under the theme ‘Keep Girls and Boys in School’.

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