United States Ambassador Virginia Palmer has called for vigilance in keeping girls in school to reduce their risk of contracting HIV.
She made the remarks on Monday when she, together with Minister of Education, Science and Technology Bright Msaka, performed a groundbreaking ceremony of Mwalasi Community Day Secondary School (CDSS) in Machinga District.
The ceremony marked the first phase of construction of 10 new CDSSs in Machinga and Balaka districts with funding from the US government through the US Agency for International Development (USAid) under the Apatseni Mwayi Atsikana Aphunzire project. The project is being implemented by Save the Children in five districts of Phalombe, Chikwawa, Machinga, Balaka and Mzimba North.
In her remarks, Palmer said the US government is supporting the project to get more Malawian girls in school. She said they will continue working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to increase Malawian girls’ access to secondary education.
She said: “We believe that keeping girls in school will help transform Malawi. Every year you keep a girl in school, you increase her lifetime earning and you decrease her lifetime risk for HIV.”
Speaking in an interview after the ceremony, Msaka appealed for commitment from the community to utilise the opportunity to transform their lives.
“Education is the key to everything. If anybody had such an opportunity it would lift everybody above the poverty line and that is what government is doing.”
Mwalasi and four other CDSSs to be constructed at Kayuni, Ntalala, Matanda and Mkotamo in Machinga District will be ready by the 2018 school year. They are expected to provide classroom space for over 1 000 secondary school students. Five additional secondary schools to be constructed in Balaka next year will benefit an additional 1 000 students.
The US government is providing funding for the school construction, classroom furniture, textbooks and science kits, whereas the Malawi government will provide teachers and other staff.