Over 60 school going girls in Rumphi district have been withdrawn from arranged early marriages and re-admitted to school thanks to the intervention by Life Concern Organization (LICO).
LICO executive director Peter Gondwe said the organization has since committed itself to paying school fees and meeting for the girl’s learning needs. Gondwe said the 60are among the vulnerable girls his organization is supporting through education sponsorship. He said besides provision of school fees and uniform, Life Concern Organization is also providing learning materials to the girls such as pens, notebooks, instruments, lamps for lighting and reading and sanitary pads among others.
Gondwe said many girls are dropping out of school as their respective families are failing to pay school fees and meet the costs of their education. “Girls from financially crippled families are becoming easy targets for arranged early marriages as they families fail to shoulder the burden of paying school fees and other costs related to education.” “Furthermore, quest for lobola (bride price) is driving these ultra-poor families to marry off their girls so that they raise money for their daily upkeep”, said Gondwe.
Gondwe further said his organization plans to engage these girls into vocational skills training upon their graduation from secondary school education in order to empower them economically. He said it against this background that LICO organizes early marriage forums which pull together various stakeholders and school going girls to tackle issues affecting girl child education. During such forums several stakeholders mostly successful women are paraded as role models in order to urge the girls to be focused and set for themselves goals that if achieved would make them women of substance in the near future.
Mirriam Mkandawire, district health officer (DHO) for Rumphi is one of the role models and says its high time parents and communities prioritizes girl child education.
(Mr. Nyirenda, Journalist)