By Andrew Mkonda, MANA
Karonga District Education Office says 343 primary school girls have married and 42 others are pregnant since the closure of schools in March due to Covid-19.
Speaking in an interview, Karonga District Director of Education, Youth and Sports Sara Khozi Jere described the development as worrisome.
It is still unclear on the exact date when schools will re-open in the country as coronavirus cases keep increasing.
Jere said of the fifteen zones in the district, Ighembe is topping the list of marriages as it has recorded 48 cases seconded by Mwenitete zone with forty-four.
“Lupaso zone has 15 girls that are pregnant while Ighembe zone has 48 girls that have gone for early marriages and Mwinitete too has lost 54 girls to early marriages.
“This is a pathetic situation. I am even running out of words. As you may be aware, a drop out of one leaner is a concern to the family, community, district as well as the nation,” she said.
She added that the report also shows that twenty-two primary school boys have married during the same period.
Last week, traditional leaders, community policing members, officials from social welfare, youth and police conducted a campaign against children under the age of 18 socializing along the lake.
Speaking in a separate interview Karonga District Youth Officer Lapken Liwago said the district has launched the campaign after noticing that many youths and some under aged children indulge in immoral behaviours at the lake.
He attributed the challenge to peer pressure and lack of information on risks of such behaviors as drug and substance abuse.
“Let me take this opportunity of asking parents and guardians to monitor whatsoever their children are doing because these are some of the causes of early pregnancies and marriages,” he said.
Liwago said his office is currently working hand in hand with youth clubs as one way of sensitizing them on the dangers of drug and substance abuse and un-protected sex.
According to 2017 Unicef report 42 percent of girls in Malawi get married before the age of 18.