As first term for the 2012/2013 school year opened on Monday, reports are rife that several children in some parts of Malawi missed classes because they are still in cultural initiation camps.

Our correspondents in Mangochi, Machinga, and Zomba districts said as schools opened on Monday the camps had not yet released the children.

Even in Lilongwe city 26 school going children missed classes on Monday and are likely to do so the whole of this week because they are still in camp at Mtandire Township.

Chief White of the area attributed the delay to parents, saying they requested for more time to source money to buy essentials during graduation of their wards.

“We were scheduled to release them last Sunday but after this request we will release them on Friday so they will only miss the first week of school,” said White.

The chief acknowledged forcing students to miss school because they are in initiation camps is against government directive.

“We are aware of the government directive on the matter, and we don’t want to violate children’s rights on education—we want to uphold those rights. We will do better next time,” he said. “But come Friday, whether one likes or not, all the children will have to leave the initiation camp.”

But education rights activist Mr. Benedicto Kondowe said the development is retrogressive as far as education is concerned.

“Honestly this is a violation of the government directive on the matter, and this has to be condemned strongly,” the education activist said.

One of the reasons why government changed the school calendar was to accommodate cultural events, including initiation ceremonies where among other things they undergo circumcision.

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