Menstrual hygiene and sanitation challenges are still contributing to high school dropout in Euthini Education Zone in Mzimba district in Malawi.
It has been noted that normally, there is always a significant enrolment of girls in infant classes but once they reach puberty, most of them lose focus to continue with their education due to among others lack of proper toilets or changing rooms for their menstrual hygiene.
Primary Education Advisor (PEA) for Euthini Zone, Joseph Mbwere disclosed this when Luke International donated toilets and urinals at Kankhukwe Primary School in Mzimba and Kaphirimtende Primary School in Nkhatabay Districts.
Mbwere said it is sad that Euthini Zone which has a total of 17 schools with a total enrolment of 5230 learners has shortages of proper toilet facilities posing serious challenges mainly to girls who opt to remain home when going through menstrual cycles.
“Out of a total of 5270 learners in the zone, the number of girls does not even reach half of the total enrolment number of boys due to issues of sanitation which are posing serious challenges mainly during rainy season hence most girls choose to remain home,” Mbwere lamented.
A 15-year-old standard 7 girl, Elizabeth Kumwenda expressed comfort with the construction of new toilets at her school saying this will reduce open defecation among learners.
“We used to go into the nearby woodlot for defecation or sometimes go home which was not healthy, but now we shall concentrate on our studies with permanent toilets constructed within the school premises,” Kumwenda said.
In an interview after handing over the toilets to the school managements, Luke International’s Community Development Deputy Manager, Tina Thole said there is need for a conducive learning environment which starts with good sanitation hence construction of toilets.
“We are working with different schools in Mzimba North, South and Nkhata-Bay so through our programmes we are able to identify some of the challenges learners are going encountering, we found the need to intervene hence gathering the communities to have such permanent toilet facilities,” Thole said.
Luke International has constructed the toilets and urinals for the two schools at K10 million with funding from Bjorgaas Foundation of Taiwan through an open term project which started in 2015.