By: Kehinde Ayeni
Malawi’s youth population is estimated to be 40% of 17.2 million people under 15 years according to 2016 PRB fact sheet. Being a youthful population, the government has one of the highest children literacy rates when compared to countries within the region. One of the contributing factors for high enrolment was the free education policy enacted in 1994 and the country has maintained steady growth in primary school enrolment year after year. Although children education is on the rise, the ratio of girls to boys in school is on the decline.
In Malawi, girl education faces many challenges such as limited access to education, lower enrolment compared to boys, huge dropout rate and low transition rate from secondary schools. These are fueled by external and internal factors such as infrastructure, teacher capacity, sanitation, and finance.
On April 15, 2019 LEAP held a convening in Blantyre, Malawi which brought together education stakeholders from the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Ministry of Education HQ, Education Divisions, District Education, NGOs, CDC, Head Teachers, CAMA and CAMFED (Campaign for Female Education), as it kicked off the Transformative Leadership Program in the country.
LEAP’s gender diversity and inclusion policy demand we place attention in reaching girls in and outside the classrooms, women within organizations and make room for girls and women to lead meaningfully. Its collaboration with Camfed, an organization working to eradicate poverty in Africa through the education of girls and the empowerment of young women and operating in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania, and Malawi helps LEAP achieve this goal in Ghana and Malawi.
At the national level, girl education is being treated with the urgency it deserves. The Ministry of Education represented by the Deputy Director for Secondary and Distance Education, Ruth Samathi-Kambali acknowledged gaps and significant efforts of the Ministry in prioritizing girl child education. The expansion of infrastructure to accommodate girls – facility upgrade; achieving 50:50 girl to boy enrolment, abolishing school fees for schools, setting up Education Trust Fund (UBR), provision of bursaries and ensuring proximity to schools amongst others are some of the measures the Ministry is taking in this respect.
Stakeholders sought for inclusiveness of Teacher Training Colleges (TTC) and Malawi Institute of Education (MIE) in the program.
In the end, the convening yielded tangible outcomes on the best approach, program sustainability, accessibility, data integrity and support channels for Teacher Mentors.