Education Authorities in Balaka district have highlighted that access to sexual reproductive health messages among adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) and adolescent boys and young men (ABYM) is crucial if the two groups are to excel in their studies and also make it into productive citizens in their communities.
On Tuesday in Balaka district, the Centre for Alternatives for Victimized Women and Children (CAVWOC) organized quiz competitions for twelve schools in Nkhonde and Ulongwe zones.
Coordinating primary education advisor for Balaka district Mac Peter Lumbani said it is paramount that young boys and girls in schools should be fully equipped with knowledge on HIV and AIDS, human rights and other cross cutting issues that put them into the danger of dropping out of school.
According to Lumbani, young boys and girls in schools can make informed decisions regarding their lives if they are fed with the right information while they are still young.
Lumbani has since applauded CAVWOC for “Her Future Her Choice” project which the organisation is implementing in the areas of Traditional Authorities Amidu and Kalembo in the district, citing that the project, has tremendously improved the education status among boys and girls.
“Prior to the inception of the project, we had challenges such as high school drop-out rate, especially among girls, primarily due to early pregnancies which eventually leads to early marriages.
“However, the situation has significantly changed such that, we can see a good number of girls going to school regularly,” Lumbani said.
According to Lumbani, some cultural practices, for instance, initiation ceremonies have for a long time prevented young boys and girls from succeeding in their studies as they rush to marriages as soon as they get out of the initiation camps.
Lumbani said the project has also changed the mindset of people, traditional leaders and they are now agents of change in their communities hence encouraging both boys and girls to concentrate on their studies.
“As a matter of fact, pass rate has greatly improved and now we can record as far as 80 to 90% pass rate in schools around this area.”
In his remarks, CAVWOC project officer, Rightwell Nyirenda said they organized the quiz competition among the schools in order to find out if the learners are able to grasp what their matrons and patrons teach them within their clubs.
“Our aim was to find out if the learners fully understand various issues that affects them and also the general Community at large,” he said.
“You can see that the quiz centred on issues like human rights, prevention of HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections among others.” Nyirenda said.
Nyirenda said it was encouraging to note that the learners are now able to show an understanding of various information on how to prevent early pregnancies and early marriages among other things.
According to Nyirenda, CAVWOC believes that if the school going children have the right information while they are young, they will be able to finish their education.
One of the learners who participated in the quiz competition, Mwaiwawo Dyton of Chisongwe primary school in Ulongwe zone said through the quiz competitions and also sensitization meetings by CAVWOC, many learners including herself are able to understand various issues, a thing which propels them to concentrate on education Knowing that it is the only key to their future.
After the competition, zonal champions were awarded with a trophy and certificates of recognitions.