During this year’s Day of the African Child observance, Malawi Human Rights (NHRC) Commissioner Rodgers Newa noted the urgency and significance the passage of the country’s Compulsory Education Bill would have for the future of Malawi. The Commission (NHRC) has strongly requested that the government would proceed with the quick passage of the Bill by expediting the process of correcting the specific elements of the plan that are holding up the enactment of the Compulsory Education Plan. Noteworthy pragmatic changes needed include logistics for children to be safely transported to various schools in the country, as well as the removal of obstacles for more female students to attend school. Newa explained the need for necessary enforcement mechanism[s] for children to be in school which the country has lacked despite the introduction of free primary education. Inability to promote the value of education among the Malawi people has resulted in low literacy rates and truancy by the youth with negative effects for generations of the population.
Another remaining shadow over Malawi history is the discrimination and abuse of the young female population. Many women live in despair as the abusive treatment continues with the lack of attention given to their plight. Girls refrain from attending schools for fear of physical attacks when attempting to travel the distance to school. Without education, girls commonly enter into marriage at a premature age–often arranged without regard to their individual rights. The Education Ministry’s Principal Secretary, Dr. Mary Shawa offered suggestions that a successful girls’ education program which includes Early Childhood Education for all Malawi children would transform the future of the country’s education program and keep children interested in remaining in school.
Without many of the requested mechanisms in place, the obstacles faced by youths in a past generation will remain. Lack of financial resources to support the previous free primary education plan in 1994 by the Bukill Muluzi government administration forced to abandon implementation. However, Newa expects that concerted efforts to implement the plan in phases will be enough to overcome any current shortfall of resources including school staffing, curriculum materials, building infrastructure, and extraneous financial expenditures. Newa believes the focus should be on promoting investment in education and its value among the Malawi people.
Awaiting the final passage and implementation of the Malawi Compulsory Education Bill, there will be high expectations for its success for the generations to come.
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