Posted on July 6, 2017
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Celebrating 53 years of independence from British rule, Malawi has made great strides emerging from decades of authoritarian rule and underdevelopment – however there are still many challenges face the country. Formerly known as Nyasaland, it was controlled by the British in the colonial era. Malawi achieved full independence on 6th July 1964. A landlocked country in the South East of Africa – with a population of 17.22 million people, it is the poorest country in the world with its GDP per capita – $226.50. Malawi received 669 million in Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2006, which was mainly funded by the UK, European Commission, Global Fund and World Bank – one of the highest amounts of global international aid; however its dependence on aid is questionable to its own independent development.
Education is key to any countries development and this has been a key factor in the development of Malawi. The country has initiated several reforms and programs to encourage and ensure that all children go to school and receive a basic education. To encourage primary school enrollment, the government was supported by the World Food Programme in 1999 to roll out a school feeding programme. This would ensure that children could receive at least one meal a day, which they may not get at home. It initially targeted 23,000 pupils in 24 schools in Dedza district, in Malawi’s Central Region. Following a successful review, it was expanded in 2000 to include a further 31,500 children in 58 schools in Ntcheu and Salima districts. Furthermore in 2012, the Education Act was introduced which overall objective was to promote equitable access, relevance, quality and improved governance and management of the education sector.
However, the demand for education, despite these initiatives is high at all levels. The illiterate percentage is 37%, which translates to at least 6 million people. Apart from tackling issues of access, the country needs to address the big concerns of quality and equity at all levels. Shortage of resources and enabling inputs such as teachers, teaching and learning materials translates to poor efficiency and learning outcomes indicators. For instance, at primary and secondary levels, 13% and 14.5% of all girls drop out respectively versus 10% and 10.6% for boys respectively.
ACT began working in Malawi in 2007, mainly in Migowi in the southern region of Phalombe, through partnership and the Goodnews Bible Church. ACT began supporting 6 children, which has since grown to 66 children, including 15 orphan girls attending Khombwe Community Day Secondary School (KCDSS). One of the main programmes initiated in Malawi is the Ulemu project.
Ulemu, meaning “dignity” in the Chichewa language, aims to keep girls at school so that they can complete their education and achieve their potential in life. The goal is to empower the girls in Malawi with knowledge of menstrual health hygiene and sanitation through education and provision of re-useable sanitary pads so that they can remain in school during menstruation. This programme covers education and counselling in menstrual health and hygiene for girls (age 10 to 18) at “Girl Shower” sessions at three schools. Awareness campaigns on menstrual health and sanitary issues took place across the community. ACT empowered ‘Mothers Group’ by providing women in the communities with training and equipping them to make reusable sanitary towels which will be used by the girls and sold to generate income in a sustainable way. The Mother group training also covers inheritance rights, HIV/AIDS prevention and other valuable leadership skills.
Access to education, general standard of healthcare, infrastructure, and quality of living conditions are all limited or substandard in Malawi.
We congratulate Malawi on this anniversary of its independence. Join with us and support our effort to give young girls in rural Malawi the opportunity of education and dignity so that they can contribute to the development of their lovely nation.