ActionAid Malawi and partners join hands to promote girls' right to education in hard-to-reach areas
Before ActionAid Malawi, in partnership with Maukako Community Based Organisation (CBO), constructed a girls’ hostel at Mibanga Community Day Secondary School (CDSS) in Nthalire, Chitipa, becoming a nurse was almost a distant dream for a 19-year-old Eftasi Mugara.
Staying almost seven kilometres away from school, she would wake up at 5am to walk to Mibanga CDSS, just to ensure she entered the class before 7:30am. Nevertheless, at times she would arrive at school after 7:30 am, earning herself some punishment from the teachers. That made her miss out on some of the class sessions.
Eftasi’ bumpy road to education is shared by Alinafe Chisale, a Form Three girl at Kanjuchi Community Day Secondary School in Khosolo Local Rights Programme (LRP), where ActionAid Malawi, in partnership with local organisations, are implementing various interventions.
In an attempt to realise their dreams, Alinafe and other girls rented accommodation within the school vicinity. But the structure that used to accommodate them proved yet another violation to their right to education.
“The building was also used by sex workers and drunkards would harass us at night, mistaking us for sex workers. The sex workers would mock us, saying there was no benefit in education. They kept persuading us to join their trade. Fortunately, I never heeded their calls though I remember some of my classmates quitting school for sex work,” recalls 18-year-old Alinafe, the first born in a family of four.
Poor accommodation affected Alinafe’s performance in class, scoring only about 60 percent in her best subjects that include English, Mathematics and Science.
However, the construction of girls’ hostel by ActionAid Malawi saved Alinafe and fellow learners from further nightmare of the make-shift hostel at Kanjuchi Trading Centre.
The school friendly hostels both at Kanjuchi and Mibanga, are now helping Alinafe, Eftasi and fellow learners’ study at night, a development that has significantly improved girls’ performance at both schools.
Lameck Gondwe, Headteacher at Kanjuchi Day Secondary School, reckons that Alinafe’s academic performance is now impressive unlike when she was in self-boarding.
“She is now scoring above 80 percent in her best subjects. I am sure she will realise her dream of going to college to study nursing. Moreover, due to the girls’ hostel which was officially opened in 2019, 17 girls passed their Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE), which is quite an improvement from only about 10 in the previous years,” says Gondwe, adding that Kanjuchi girls hostel accommodates all the 67 girls at the school.
His counterpart, John Mombo, headteacher at Mibanga CDSS agrees that a girls’ hostel has improved girls’ academic performance.
“For us here, the first cohort of beneficiaries of this girls’ hostel will be writing their MSCE examinations this year. However, I am confident most of the girls will do well because their performance during the terminal tests has also improved. We have been encouraging them to study every evening, especially from 6pm to 8 pm” he says.
Speaking during Mibanga Hostel Handover ceremony in October, 2020 ActionAid Malawi Executive Director, Assan Golowa, said the organisation decided to support construction of the girls' hostels and other education infrastructure in rural and hard-to-reach areas as one way of promoting right to education for underprivileged, especially girls.
“This is a hard to reach area and it’s difficult for the girl child to access education. As an organisation which focuses on promoting the rights of girls, we decided to construct this hostel to help the girl child get educated. As they say, educating the girl child is educating the nation,” said Golowa