There are fears that around 709 learners will not go back to school in Chikwawa as the institutions are set for reopening this Monday.

Records from the District Education Office show that out of the 709, about 632 are girls who have fallen pregnant in the period schools were closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Director of Education, Youth and Sports in the district, Chrissie Chimsale disclosed the figures at a meeting held recently in the district.

“Girls in the district have been sexually abused since schools were closed due to the pandemic,” said Chimsale.

She said most girls are in early marriages, adding that the girls were not well prepared as schools were closing.

“We expect that 709 learners are likely drop out of school in the district, mostly due to early marriages and pregnancies during the period the schools were closed due to COVID-19 pandemic,” she added.

She said the right to education is compromised, especially among girls who are vulnerable to social pressure.

“Most of the affected learners are girls whose figure is currently at 632 in the district. This shows that there isn’t much done on girls’ education empowerment in the district,” added Chimsale.

Despite the development, she disclosed that the district was well prepared to reopen schools as directed by government.

“We are almost done with all the activities in readiness for the reopening of schools this Monday such as training head teachers on how to make face masks which will be distributed to vulnerable learners,” she said.

She added that schools are also provided with gun thermometers, tapped buckets and other materials which will help reduce the Coronavirus transmission.

Save the Children District Coordinator for the Apatseni Mwayi Atsikana Aphunzire (AMAA) Project, Hellina Mwimba said the organisation would continue working closely with the Chikwawa District Education Office in promoting girls education.

“We implemented the AMAA Project in five districts in the country with the aim of empowering the girls with education and we included Chikwawa since it has so many gaps to do with girls’ education,” Mwimba said.

AMAA has supported needy girls with bursaries and conducted a series of awareness meetings on reopening of schools.

The five-year AMAA Project, according to Mwimba, started in 2016 with funds from United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

It is expected to wind up in September, 2021.

Apart from Chikwawa, AMAA is being implemented in Mzimba, Balaka, Machinga and Phalombe.

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