Graca Machel, widow of South Africa’s first black president Nelson Mandela and founder of the Graca Machel Trust, has called for joint efforts in ensuring that the girl child has access to education.
Machel, who was in the country on a two-day visit, said this on Friday when she visited Malunje Primary School in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Kalolo in Lilongwe District.
She said unlike their male counterparts, more girls drop out of school due to poverty and cultural practices.
Said Machel: “Parents, guardians, traditional and religious leaders and the community in general have a responsibility to ensure that every girl child goes to school regardless of the obstacles that are there.”
She said she was happy to interact with a number of girls from the area who have been withdrawn from early marriages and are back in school with the support the Consol Homes, a local non-governmental organisation working in the area.
Fifteen girls returned to school after the intervention of Consol Homes, according to Chief Kalolo.
Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati, who accompanied Machel during the field visit, said government is committed to ensuring that girls access education by putting conducive policies and programmes.
She cited the construction of girls’ hostels in various secondary schools in the country as one of the initiatives that is aimed at ensuring that girls do not cover long distances to and from school.