Girls Empowerment Network (Genet) Malawi commemorates this year’s Day of the African Child by calling upon governments in Africa (including Malawi) to improve girls’ education system.
Sound education helps to increase girls’ decision-making power and self-confidence over critical issues such as Child Marriage, Early Pregnancies and HIV/AIDS that threaten their well-being and bright future.
The theme of this year’s Day of the African Child, which was chosen by the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, is, “A child friendly, quality, free and compulsory education for all children in Africa”.
Its general objective is to call the attention of African governments to their responsibilities in respect of ensuring children’s right to education in accordance with the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (Children’s Charter).
Greater power to reducing adolescent girls’ vulnerability to Human Rights violations such as Early Pregnancies, Child Marriages and HIV exposure is providing them with basic education, which serves as weapon to empower them to make informed choices over their lives.
Education equips girls with knowledge and necessary skills that could help them to take measures to protect themselves.
Analysis by the Global Campaign for Education suggests that if all children received a complete primary education, the economic impact of HIV/AIDS could be greatly reduced and around 700,000 cases of HIV in young adults could be prevented each year—seven million in a decade.
Studies show that in many countries, including the world’s poorest Malawi, the more educated and skilled young people are, the more likely they are to protect themselves and the less likely they are to engage in risky sexual behaviour. The benefits of education come from actual knowledge that students gain about HIV, from training in negotiation and life skills and from their increased ability to think critically and analyse situations before acting.
However, Malawi is among the poorest countries struggling with efforts to attain full educational enrolment of girls in the face of High Fertility (which currently stands at 5.7), Child Marriage and poverty levels. More women and girls with poor levels of education are having more children.
According to the World Bank, girls currently represent 48 percent of primary school enrolment and boys represent 52 percent. Even though this gender gap has decreased in the last few decades, girls still account for 55 percent of all out-of-school children—meaning that, on average, for every 100 boys out-of-school, there are 122 girls. In Malawi, the disparity is even greater.
Although African Children’s Charter recognises a right to education for all children, and calls upon States Parties to ensure the fulfilment of this right. Children in Malawi, especially adolescent girls, continue to abandon school for a variety of reasons such as poor quality education, poverty, and long distances to school and early pregnancies.
Poor school environments, which are deteriorated by lack of sanitary facilities, often discourage girls from attending class.
UNICEF estimates that given that 74 percent of pupils do not complete a full course of primary schooling, it is unlikely that Malawi will achieve the MDG 2 on attaining universal primary education by 2015.
Therefore, the Millennium Development Goal to achieve Universal access to primary education 2015 is Malawi’s national and global agenda that cannot become unfulfilled promise. INVEST IN GIRLS EDUCATION NOW AND REAP MULTIPLE BENEFITS.