Member of Parliament for Phalombe North, Anna Kachikho, on Saturday advised chiefs in the constituency to consider formulating by-laws that would help address the challenge of early marriages in the area. Kachikho was speaking at a farewell party for Form Four students at Khongoloni Community Day Secondary School (CDSS) after receiving a report that close to 40 percent of female students did not make it to Form Four due to early marriages. The MP said it was sad that Phalombe continues to register an increase in cases of early marriages despite concerted efforts to deal with the vice. “Early marriages are a catalyst of poverty. And since they are fuelled by culture and tradition, it is important that each community formulates its own by-laws that discourage early marriages,” she said. Kachikho also emphasised the need for community leaders to promote girls’ education in the country. “I wish to commend the 24 girls that have made it to Form Four. This is not a mean achievement. But you still have to aim high for Form Four alone cannot take you anywhere nowadays. You need to go beyond secondary education,” she advised. Kachikho awarded best-performing students with money and writing materials ahead of their Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations. A United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report released in February this year indicates that Malawi is among 10 countries in the world with the highest prevalence of child marriages. The report says one in two girls get married by the age of 18 despite government and civil society interventions to end the vice. The key challenge to eradicating child marriages in Malawi, according to UNFPA, is entrenched culture, traditions and attitudes that seem to endorse the practice.