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K7.2 BILLION PROJECT FOR GIRL EDUCATION LAUNCHED IN DEDZA

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A three-year project aimed at surmounting hurdles faced by girls in their pursuit for education has been launched in Dedza Wednesday, thanks to the government of Norway and the United Nations.

Visiting Prime Minister of Norway Mrs. Erna Solberg launched the project which is a build on the National Girls Education Strategy the government of Malawi launched in May 2014

Under the banner Improving Access and Quality of Education in Malawi, the initiative aims at policing problems of food and nutrition, inadequate protection, poor quality schooling and violations of girls’ sexual and reproductive rights which form major challenges facing girls’ education nationwide.

The government of Norway is fully funding the programme with support from the United Nations through the UN Children’s Fund (Unicef).

According to a Malawi Joint UN-Norway statement released on July 2 2014, girls’ education is an important tool for progress as it rids any nation of enemies of development.

“Education is key to fighting poverty, and my government believes educating girls is the single most powerful investment for development. When you educate a girl, you educate a nation,” reads the statement in part.

The statement also contains the commitment by the government of Norway to partner with the Malawi Government in ensuring quality education for all adding that Norway is encouraged by President Mutharika’s personal engagement and his government’ commitment to educating the young.

Focus areas of the programme include school feeding using locally grown nutritious foods, improving the quality of education through literacy and numeracy skills, gender responsive training for teachers, go-back-to-school for pregnant girls, creation of girl-friendly learning environments and provision of health services, among others.

The three districts of Dedza, Salima and Mangochi have been selected for the pilot phase of the initiative.

In Malawi, getting girls to stay in school remains one of the major challenges. According to Government of Malawi figures, only 27 percent of girls complete primary education. Boys, on the other hand, perform better than girls in mathematics and reading, and are more likely to embark on post-primary education.

Only half of Malawian girls aged 15-24 are literate. Gender parity now stands at 1:1 in the lower primary school grades but disparities emerge as early as standard 4, with girls dropping out before they acquire basic literacy skills and repeating years to a greater extent than boys.

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