Guaranteed, Malawi is one of the countries with a youthful population, with about 80 in every 100 people being under 35 years of age.
This is likely to remain so for decades, which begs the question: Are our leaders doing enough to ensure that the youth are not left behind in making decisions on issues that concern them and the country at large? Are the youth being given a chance to contribute to economic development?
In the Brains article on Page 3, the youth are advocating for inclusion, arguing that meaningful youth participation should be actualised by our leaders instead of just paying lip-service to the idea.
But for that to happen effectively and ensure that the country can harness the demographic dividend in its developmental agenda, educating and empowering the youth is key.
Evidently, many youths are being left behind in terms of inclusion in education, especially those in rural areas as students must walk long distances to get to school and when they get there, the schools have inadequate learning materials and the quality of education is poor. Many students will be lucky to attend classes consistently throughout the year, as some will be forced to miss classes in the course of the term should their parents not have enough money to pay fees, while girls also have to deal with sanitation challenges that affect their school attendance during menstruation. How can they achieve education under these settings?
The lack of access to quality education has left many students without functional literacy and numeracy skills.
In the week that has just ended, many of us have watched a video clip of Kam’mwamba Primary School pupils in Ntcheu who could not spell words as simple as well, look, spell, and chips during a recent spelling competition. It was unbelievable to see how the pupils were struggling to spell such simple words. What has happened to the country’s education standards?
Are the teachers perhaps not motivated enough to teach the pupils effectively? Considering that their counterparts in private schools are doing better, we can safely conclude that it is the public education system that needs fixing, otherwise the future does not look as bright for the majority rural-based future leaders.
With such exclusion in quality education, they are likely to also be excluded in decision making positions and economic activities in future. This will cause even more social and economic inequalities, worsening the cycle of poverty for rural populations.
It is my prayer that government will take this as a serious warning and work harder to ensure that Malawi’s public schools are as vibrant as they were in the past. You will read more about youth inclusion on Brains.
And today we have another interesting young leader for our cover story, Agnes Luhanga. She is determined to support women farmers in her community by offering agricultural advisory services, trainings, and providing an outlet for their farm produce. This has transformed many female farmers in that area and now men, too, are approaching her to be included in the interventions. The youth these days are stepping up and doing a lot for others and we can all learn from them. Read more about Agnes and her initiative on pages 7 and 8.
And on Page 8 today, we also get free advice from our columnist Edith Gondwe. She warns against staying in abusive relationships or marriages to conform to societal expectations.
Phukusi la moyo umasunga wekha, as the saying goes. So we must stay guard for both our physical and emotional health, otherwise, a hurt person hurts others, and that creates a cycle of abuse. So, watch out and stay out of toxic relationships.
Otherwise, enjoy today’s read and do not forget to send us feedback on our stories and the areas you would like us to cover