Pregnancies and early marriages force 26 girls to withdraw from scholarship within a year in Malawi

Education Authorities in Nsanje have disclosed that 26 out of the 392 girls registered under Campaign for Female Education (Camfed) programme in the district have withdrawn from the scholarship within a year.

Camfed coordinator for Nsanje, Elijah Kuyewawa described the development as disastrous saying the dropout rate is likely to increase after this year’s Malawi National Examination Board (MANEB)’s Junior Certificate and Malawi School Certificate of Education results.

“Camfed policies clearly indicate that any secondary school beneficiary found pregnant or fail MANEB Examinations is automatically withdrawn from the programme. The programme does not encourage repetition,” he said.

The overwhelming statistics indicate bad beginning for Nsanje particularly that this has been the first year for the district to participate in the bursary.

Kuyewawa told the Malawi News Agency (Mana) Tuesday that an assessment they conducted in 16 secondary schools of the district indicates that in 2012/2013 academic year alone, 26 girls, who represent 7 percent of the beneficiaries that were sponsored under the programme have dropped out of school due to pregnancies and pre-arranged marriages.

“It is alarming that 26 girls have withdrawn from such a promising scholarship programme within a short period of time especially when the programme targets vulnerable females. We are concerned with what the country will become if the vulnerable continue shunning education like this,” he said while explaining that this was a chance for Nsanje to reduce illiteracy levels for women which is on the higher side.

The coordinator said they use one-on-one dialogue approach to convince the girls that Camfed exists to stay with the beneficiaries until they feel they are done with education.

He then added that girls should not be compelled by cravings of other people but strive for their vision adding that only those who want to speak will endure the battle.

“The bursary provides anything a learner needs and once a pupil writes MSCE, she is automatically registered into a Camfed association where they are allowed to do a course of their choice in various institutions.

“We encourage the girls to achieve goals by abstaining from issues that can disturb them due to vulnerability,” said the education official.

He urged parents to take a leading role in encouraging their children to take education seriously emphasizing that educating a girl child is educating a nation.

In Nsanje district Camfed offered to assist 392 enrolled females with school fees, complete school uniform and writing materials among others.

Apart from Nsanje, some of the districts benefitting from Camfed programme include Neno, Mangochi and Nkhotakota.

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