Dowa district has this year registered a reduction in school drop-out rate by 4 percent. According to Acting district education manager for Dowa district Joseph Chafulumira Dowa registered a 12 percent school dropout whilst the rate was at 16 percent.
Speaking on the sidelines of an open day organized by the Malawi Council of Churches Chafulumira attributed the decrease in school dropout rate to recent interventtions by MCC in the district.
“Let me make it as a point of emphasis that since MCC enrolled the human rights and theology project in Dowa, we have seen a lot of change. The community is now aware of the rights and responsibilities of encouraging pupils to stay in school. Parents have picked up responsibility to send children to school and also provide them with necessary things like food.” Chafukira said.
“As a district education office we are impressed with this project. You see in the past we had issues that were encouraging high school dropout like sexual harassment, early marriages, teenage pregnancies, hard punishments in schools by teachers and others. But through this project we have seen changes in mindset of the people. This is good development” he added.
However Chafukira said the 12 percent dropout is not heaven for the district hence urging stakeholders in the education sector to continue addressing challenges the district was facing in providing quality education to people.
He cited the long distances pupils and students cover to access education as another setback in improving education
“Government’s policy is that a student should not walk a distance of more than 10 kilometers to get to school but her in Dowa schools are at longer distances. But also due to the topography of the district which is hilly, a distance of even two kilometers is a challenge for pupils and students. As much as we would encourage self-boarding for students but this is also proving a problem for us as there is minimal supervision and protection of students a mostly girl” he said.
Dowa district has 237 public primary schools and 33 public secondary schools.
And making his comment programs coordinator for MCC M’theto Lungu disclosed that the human rights and theology project has connected church leaders, teachers, primary school education advisors, community policing members, social welfare officers, members of the judicary and chiefs to end gender based violence in Dowa.
“ what we have done is to train trainer of trainers on GBV. We have seen great improvement. People are now able to articulate GBV issues. They know where to report and get assistance.” He said.
MCC is doing the human rights and theology project in Dowa with support from the Norwegian Church Aid.