By Harold Kapindu
Lilongwe, 12 November 2015, Mana: Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has said water, sanitation and hygiene facilitates are important for girl students to do well in school.
Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Technology Hon. Vincent Ghambi made the sentiments on Thursday at the opening of National Girls’ Forum at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe.
Ghambi said girls are more sensitive to lack of water, sanitation and hygiene facilitates and in recognition of this, both government and development partners have been providing appropriate facilities for girls in schools.
“Making infrastructure, facilities and supplies in and around the schools more responsive to the needs of girls is a critical component of advancing girls’ education.
“There are more girls repeating grades at primary school level than boys and more girls (11% in grade 5 and 15% in grade 8) drop out of school than boys often without the essential basic literacy, numeracy and life skills. Only one in four girls complete eight years of primary education leading to fewer girls entering and completing secondary education,” He explained.
The Deputy Minister further disclosed that Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has a number of programs and policies that have led to increased enrolment as well as retention of girls in school.
“Free Primary Education Policy introduced in 1994 was an indirect affirmative action policy in favour of girls who would normally not be a priority where resources such as school fees are scarce,” he said.
Ghambi added: “Access to secondary education for girls has also been increased by the provision of bursaries for girls by implementing partners. Close to 15,000 girls receive bursaries, provided by government through World Bank, UNICEF, CAMFED, the Press Trust Merit Bursary. Other providers include FAWEMA, AGE Africa, CRECOM, Save the Children, World Vision, religious organisations and well wishers.”
He then stated that the forum would give the opportunity to hear from the people who experience first-hand the issues that the public often report about so as to plan for appropriate interventions.
In her remarks, UNFPA representative, Dr Rogaia Abdelrahim appealed to the representatives not to only speak of themselves but also speak for the ones in villages and friends and relatives around them.
“In order to have a comprehensive forum, there is need to remember and share stories of those who are not around. There are also lessons to be learnt here at this forum so please don’t take it lightly, you are here for a purpose,” she advised.
She also noted that there is a need for both men and women to work together for Malawi’s development to be speedy.
The forum has attracted different government officials from different ministries, development partners (EU and Royal Norwegian Embassy and the United Nations (Unicef, UNFPA and UNWomen), Non-Governmental Organisations, the Academia and Students from 34 Education districts.
The 34 Education districts include, Nsanje, Mwanza, Neno,Blantyre, Phalombe, Thyolo, Zomba, Balaka, Ntcheu, Dedza, Salima, Mchinji, Kasungu, Mzuzu, Mzimba, Rumphi, Likoma, Karonga and Nkhata Bay among others.
The 2015 National Girls’ Forum is being held under the theme: Girls’ education – Pivotal to national development.