April 10th, 2018: Norwegian Minister of International Development, Mr. Nicolai Astrup, says girls’ education is key to progress and development of communities and countries.
Mr. Astrup said this on Monday when he visited Lifidzi Primary School supported by the United Nations Joint Programme on Girls Education (JPGE) in the central region district of Salima.
“Education is a critical investment for the development of a nation. Girls education is key to progress and development of communities and countries,” said Mr. Astrup.
He added “The results of the JPGE are a clear testimony that people can work together to improve their quality of life. However, more work still needs to be done as some boys and girls are still not in school and are not completing their education.”
Girls in Malawi face multiple threats in their pursuit of education. These threats include poor food and nutrition, inadequate protection, poor quality schooling, and violations of sexual and reproductive rights to education. To mitigate these threats, with funding from the Royal Norwegian Government, three United Nations agencies – UNICEF, UNFPA and WFP in collaboration with the Government of Malawi, are implementing the JPGE in Dedza, Salima and Mangochi districts. The programme aims at improving access and quality of education for girls through a holistic and human rights-based approach targeting girls from standard 5 to 8 due to the increased risk of dropouts and reduced attendance rates.
Speaking during the visit, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Malawi, Maria Jose Torres Macho, commended the collaboration among various players including the Government of Malawi, the three UN agencies and the local authorities to improve the quality of life of the people of Malawi.
“The JPGE shows that we can work together in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Malawi Government’s development agenda to attain healthy and quality life for families and communities,” said Macho.
In his remarks, Secretary for Education, Science and Technology Justin Saidi, while underscoring the importance of girls’ education, thanked the Government of Norway for supporting the development agenda of Malawi through various programmes including education.
Since the programme started in 2014, some 98,000 learners have been provided with Home-Grown School Meals; 5, 500 out-of-school adolescent girls have enrolled for literacy classes through Girls Functional Literacy Programme; 23 girls who dropped out of school to get married have been rescued and readmitted in school.
Thus, overall school enrollment in the targeted districts and communities has grown by 31 per cent while girls’ enrollment has increased by 36 per cent. Average school attendance has also increased from 64 per cent in 2013/2014 school calendar to 93 per cent in 2016/2017 school calendar. Dropout rates have declined from 7.4 per cent to 5.5 per cent; number of girls passing the Primary School Leaving Certificate Examinations has increased by 109 per cent; while cases of pregnancies among school girls were reduced by 50 per cent in the three districts in 2017 as compared to 2016.