Cultural practices blamed for high illiteracy rate in Chikwawa


Chikwawa District Youth Office says cultural practices have contributed to the 42 percent illiteracy rate among girls in the district.

District Youth Officer Macnell Shire was speaking at Masanduko Primary School in the district recently where 137 girls were awarded certificates after completing nine-month literacy lessons.

According to Shire, many parents in the district consider educating girls a loss as they believe that the girl will get married and be under their husbands.

Chairperson for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Chikwawa, Josephy Chamambala, said the highest rate of illiteracy levels among adolescent girls in the district which is currently at forty-two percent is a wake up call for Non-Governmental Organisations(NGOs) in the district to intensify efforts to reduce the trend.

The literacy program focusing on providing literacy and numeracy skills to adolescent girls has trained about 137 adolescent girls in Chikwawa.

Adolescent Girls Literacy Plus (AGLIT+) programs manager, Wilson Liwonde, said his organisation thought of offering literacy skills to adolescent girls in the district as most them dropped out of school to enter into early marriages.

He therefore expressed happiness that out of 150 adolescent girls his organisation had enrolled in its 2020-2021 academic year, 137 have graduated.

The girls were drawn from five Group Village Headmen (GVHs) of Mchacha, Khungubwe, Jessey Mwananjovu and Masanduko under Traditional Authority (T/A) Ngowe’s area.

“They have undergone an intensive nine months of literacy training. They have also been equipped with best maternal and nutrition practices. We are optimistic therefore that they will use the literacy skills they have acquired in managing their households properly and also contribute positively to the development of their communities,” said Liwonde.

Nduzani Gafali, 18, dropped out of school at age 14 and entered into marriage who now has one Child. She said she is now able to read and write after the literacy classes and is considering of going back to school.

AGLIT Plus started offering literacy lessons to adolescent girls in Chikwawa in 2019 with financial assistance from a UK based charitable organisation and has so far trained over two hundred adolescent girls in the district.