A non-governmental organization has engaged students in secondary schools in Thyolo on harmful cultural practices which affect girl child education.
Through the discussions, the Churches Action in Relief and Development (CARD) has discovered that initiation ceremonies and other harmful social cultural norms are infringing girls to go further with their education in Thyolo.
On Wednesday, the organization had a dialogue session with students at Lipho Community Day Secondary School and Thekerani Community Day Secondary School on 30 September 2020.
Speaking during the dialogue session, the district advisor for CARD in Thyolo, Chifundo Macheka said the focus is to empower women as well as girls to complete education in order to increase number of women taking leadership positions either in government or private institutions.
“This is objective number two, whereby we want to discover harmful social cultural norms and beliefs that infringe students especially girls to go further with education here in Thyolo. The project ‘ women empowerment’ has two objectives, first objective we empowered women to contest in Counselor and MP’s position in 2019.
“You can agree with me that starting from standard 1-8, number of girl students seems to be large but reaching secondary the number of girls start declining and only few girls reach form 4. Therefore, this prompted us to investigate the cause,” said Macheka.
Currently, CARD has engaged over 15 secondary school in a dialogue session, and among the harmful cultural norms, initiation ceremony is at high rank of disturbing girl students to complete education but rather lead them into early marriages
Memory Thom, a form 4 student at Thekerani CDSS said that some advice taught during the initiation ceremonies prompted many girls to indulge in bad behavior which eventually lead them into early marriages.
“Just imagine girls we are taught ‘remove dust’ in order to cleanse our body. And other counseling’s are beyond our age, for instance, we taught how to take care a husband, this disturb our mindset hence end up in early marriage,” said Thom.
In his remarks, the Head teacher for Thekerani CDSS, Patrick Mulele appreciated CARD for encouraging girl students to go further with education despite some other obstacles such as cultural norms.
“This dialogue session is of great signifant to both students though much focus on girl students. As mentioned earlier during the dialogue, initiation ceremonies, kulowa kufa, poverty as well as ignorance of parents on importance of educating girl child,” said Mulele.
However, CARD has called upon students to have vision to achieve in order for them to defeat challenges encountered during education life.