A journey that started with 42 girls enrolled at Mzenga Community Day Secondary School in Nkhata Bay five years ago ended up with only two completing their secondary school education last year.
Nkhata Bay is one of the districts with high cases of child marriages with statistics indicating that out of every 100 girls below the age of 18, 38 get married.
Nkhata Bay West member of Parliament (MP) Grace Chiumia (Democratic Progressive Party-DPP), who is also Minister of Sports and Culture, said the 40 girls dropped out from the school due to early marriages.
Speaking at the International Women’s Day celebrations held in the district on Tuesday, Chiumia said issues of early marriages in the area need to be addressed.
She then asked for civic education campaigns in remote areas on the dangers of early marriages and benefits of education.
In an interview yesterday, Nkhata Bay district education manager (DEM) Mzondi Moyo attributed the high drop out rate to long distances girls cover to and from school.
“It is true that the girls really dropped out some three or four years ago; they walk 10 kilometres to the school which forced some of them into self boarding,” he said.
Moyo said construction of two girls’ hostel is underway at the school as one way of dealing with the problem.
“We have also involved role models to motivate them as one way of keeping them in school,” he said.
Moyo said non- governmental organisations (NGOs) have also come in to distribute sanitary pads, uniforms, stationery and pocket money to the girls.
NGO-Gender Coordination Network executive director Emma Kaliya asked community members to take action and stop child marriages.
“Where were you[media] when this was happening? Were you waiting for the minister to come here and address the issue?” she queried.
Kaliya further asked for a police unit in the area as community members currently cover 21 kilometres to the nearest police station.