A United Nations Joint Programme on Adolescent Girls (JPAG) has revealed that an increase in information to Sexual Reproductive Services (SRH) amongst adolescent girls has been crucial in keeping girls in school.
Speaking during a recent field visit to Mangochi and Chikhwawa- which were implementing districts- Youth Net and Counselling (Yoneco) Youth District Officer for Mangochi Kumbani Manda said the rate of girls dropping out of school in Mangochi has tremendously dropped as a result of the project.
“When the project was starting in 2012, there were no girls in other secondary schools. In a term other primary schools would register as many as ten girls dropping out due to pregnancies alone,” he said.
According to Manda, the interventions included community awareness, training of community based distribution agents (CBDAs) and youths both in school and those who dropped out.
Chikhwawa Youth District officer, Chigonjetso Chiromo disclosed that before the project, the district used to register as many as six girls dropping out of each community day secondary school per term.
“JPAG has helped keep a lot of girls in school and this is a positive development because if these children get married at such a young age then our country will be heading for disaster, in addition, through this project, girls have seen the importance of waiting to have children at the right time.
“It might take a while to bring more girls on board, but the few that are there will be a shining light to others,” he said
According to the project’s evaluation report, about 7 000 adolescent girls have accessed contraceptives from CBDAs and nearly 15,000 girls have been reached with stop early marriages campaigns.
“The proportion of girls who reported never being married increased from 72.3 percent at baseline to 86 percent at end line. The proportion of those who reported being married dropped from 21.3 percent to 9.6 percent. JPAG discouraged early marriages and dropping out of school,” it reads in part.