Dedza: A total of 10 teenage girls have dropped out of school at Machese primary school in Dedza in the third term of 2017/2018 academic calendar for early marriages, Malawi News Agency has leant.
The school is located in the rural area of Traditional Authority Kasumbu in the district.
Speaking in an interview, Machese Primary School Head teacher, Dziwapo Kadaluka said 10 girls of ages between 12 and 16 have dropped out of school for marriages.
“We have a record of 10 girls who have dropped out of school in this just ended third term and have married at a very young age. The youngest is 12 years and the older one is 16. One learner even failed to sit for her standard eight examinations this year. This development is negatively affecting the already dwindling level of our education here in Dedza,” Kadaluka said.
She observed that the school faces an uphill task in addressing this challenge which in many cases has been initiated by some parents and guardians who do not put the interest of the education of their children at heart.
“The main challenge is that this trend is being championed by some parents and guardians who are only interested in the financial gains rather than looking into the future of these girls.
It would have been better if the authorities and parents would be speaking one voice. The school has high enrollment of girls from standard one to six, but then in standards seven and eight the number drops drastically as many of them get married, she added.
Speaking in a separate interview, Group Village Headman Kumbande warned chiefs and subjects that those found promoting the culture of marrying off girls who have not attained the age of 18 will face a severe punishment according to the law.
He said in order to curb the behaviour of letting young girls get married, together with other chiefs in the area he will set by-laws and ask school authorities and the communities to come up together with solutions that would save the girls from early marriages.
“This is very pathetic as these are our leaders of tomorrow sometimes you may wonder as what exactly do the parents want to achieve in marrying off their young girls? I have noted that some of the chiefs are promoting this bad behavior too, therefore we are going to sit down and make some by-laws so that before taking the issue to police we should have done our part,” he added.
Dedza is one of the districts that have a high percentage of girls dropping out of school due to early marriages.
Source: Malawi News Agency MANA