Traditional leaders commit to raising education standards in Balaka

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Traditional leaders and education stakeholders working in the area of Traditional Authority Phalula in Balaka District have agreed to set up and enforce punitive by-laws against parents who deny their children of school-going age access to education.

The commitment was made on Friday when a partnership of Oxfam in Malawi and Centre for Alternatives for Victimized Women and Children (Cavwoc) held an event aimed at reminding the community the evils gender-based violence and their correlation to school.

Traditional Authority Phalula noted that various forms of gender-based violence have created a hostile environment which prevents children from pursuing academic studies as most of them drop out of school because of different kinds of abuses they face in their communities.

He observed that the tendency by some parents of deliberately denying their children access to school derail academic dreams of children.

He then called on all relevant stakeholders both at community and district level to promptly act on the matter to tame the vice.

The traditional leader has since pledged to wage a fierce battle against the perpetrators of gender-based violence in order to keep children in school.

“As a community leader, I have already instructed gender-based violence committee, the child protection committee and other community stakeholders to remain vigilant and punish all parents and guardians who are not cooperating with the set standards in as far as sending children to school is concerned,” said Phalula.

Oxfam in Malawi gender and education officer, Twambilire Kayuni, said the organizations have stepped up various interventions aimed at improving the status of education especially for a girl child in the area.

She cited construction of girls changing rooms and provision of school fees bursaries to needy students as well as distribution of bicycles to learners in order to ease mobility challenges to and from school as some of the key interventions the organization is implementing in the area.

Kayuni also said Oxfam in Malawi has awarded certificates to fifty men and women who have undergone psychosocial counselling and support training.

Among the participants were police officers, child protection workers and youth friendly health service providers.

She explained that lack of psychosocial support to victims of trauma for instance in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Freddy left the children especially girls dejected, forcing them to drop out school.

Meanwhile, Principal education officer for Balaka District, Baxter Chakwera, has commended the interventions by Oxfam in Malawi and Cavwoc saying the two organizations have complemented government efforts in raising education standards in the district.

Oxfam in Malawi and Cavwoc are implementing the project in the area of Tradional Authority Phalula in the district with funding from Oxfam Hong kong and Medicor Foundation.

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