By Tione Andsen
Lilongwe, Mana: United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has said a study by the Ministry of Gender has indicated that there are approximately 40, 000 reported cases of teen pregnancies.
UNICEF Resident Representative in Malawi, Rudolf Schwenk said this Monday during the opening of the two days Education Joint Sector Review (JSR) Programme at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe.
He said this was a multi-sectoral issue that requires joint action to ensure that girls continue their education.
Schwenk who is outgoing Chair for Development Partners pointed out that adequate protection measures and awareness at community level whether through monitoring or conducting back to school campaigns.
He said we may go a long way in reducing incidences of early marriages and teenage pregnancies as they happen to be the biggest causes for girls dropping out of schools.
UNICEF Representative said proactive measures would be required to bring these girls back to school and restore their rights to education without discrimination.
Schwenk added, “The initiatives such as Adolescent Girls and Young Women Strategy, which strives to look at the issue holistically, become relevant in these situations.”
He said the impact of Covid-19 on girls was noted through the increased cases of child marriages and teen pregnancies.
The UNICEF Representative said amidst this emergency, the country was one of the first countries in the region to launch the continuity of learning programmes within six weeks of school closure using radio for pre-primary and primary education and online learning solutions for secondary education.
He said interventions brought to the fore the digital divide existing within the sector and across the country, with the majority of learners not having access to those alternative modes of learning offered.
“UNICEF was happy to work with the Ministry and other development partners to mobilize resources from the Education Cannot Wait and the Global Partnership for Education to support the COVID response and school reopening,” Schwenk pointed out.
The Outgoing Chair said the theme for this year’s Joint Sector Review “Education reforms; A means to reverse the learning losses from Covid-19 and build an inclusive, resilient and sustainable” system is thus very appropriate for the sector to reflect on what has been achieved this year amidst the pandemic.
He said challenges were faced and what opportunities COVID-19 has brought to enable the sector to re-imagine education and its delivery.
Minister of Education, Agnes Nyalonje said the gathering was very unique to find ways and means to continue providing education even when there was such disruption.
“We have learnt a lot from the way, we are providing education since we reopened. Let us share these experiences and come up with lasting solutions to help us recover from this loss,” she said.
Nyalonje said the innovative approaches in support of education and training continuity; from radio and television to take home packages.