Fighting child marriages in Malawi
In Malawi, literacy rates are low. Only around two in three adults are able to read and write. Girls and women are often expected to take care of children and the household. This means that women have lower levels of education and only 3% have completed secondary school.
In Malawi, marriage under age 18 is illegal, but in many villages, child marriage is still very common. With many families not being able to afford to send their children to school, many young girls are married instead. Following school closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2020, the communities we work with saw school dropouts triple, with child marriages subsequently increasing by 6 times their normal levels.
Education is a human right.
Temwa has been running education projects since 2007. From community literacy projects, to secondary school bursaries and girls’ education, Temwa is trying to ensure every child has the opportunity to learn. By helping to provide schools with educational materials, running literacy groups, supporting children through secondary school, constructing the Usisya Community Library, and many more activities Temwa has achieved incredible things.
Since we started working in education, an incredible 1,200 students have improved their literacy skills, and approximately 100 students have been supported through secondary school with our bursary scheme.
Education in Malawi since Covid.
The dramatic increase in school dropouts and child marriages due to the pandemic concerned many in the communities, so they reached out to Temwa for help. After Temwa’s community engagements, Mother Groups started independently visiting homes and making sure child marriages were prevented.
As a result of the work carried out by the Mother Groups, 80 girls were rescued from marriages, and 77 out of 80 children who were re-enrolled at school are now still attending school. The Mother Groups are continuing to visit homes and have established ‘Girls’ corners’ in these communities as a space for girls to meet and discuss educational issues as well as social and cultural norms. Since the start of this initiative – independently run by the Mother Groups – no new child marriages or teenage pregnancies have been registered amongst children attending school.Temwa’s team helped to motivate these groups above and beyond what our goals have been!
Temwa Bursary Student Update – January 2022
Flora Mphoyo is one of the recipients of Temwa’s secondary school bursary, and she has just finished Form 3 at Usisya Community Day Secondary School. Since the passing of their parents, Flora and her younger siblings have been living with their aunt. The family still receives their daily income from selling firewood, which is often insufficient to fund their needs. Because of this, Flora and her brothers often have to take on small jobs to assist the family’s income.
Despite these responsibilities, Flora says her whole family is very supportive of her education: “My brothers help me with mathematics, while my aunt encourages me to value the bursary, stay in school and work extra hard. She bought me a torch for lighting to ease my studies”.
Flora is nervous about the increased difficulty of her studies and final exams in Form 4. Temwa is currently seeking funding for girls like Flora to stay in the Usisya Girls’ Hostel, built by Temwa, near to the school. Flora believes that staying closer to the school campus would leave her more time for her studies and learning with her peer study group, which has already helped her obtain better grades in maths and sciences. She would also be able to visit the Usisya Community Library more regularly, and have access to electricity which she does not have at home.
Since she was enrolled on the bursary scheme, Flora says her schooling has been considerably easier: “The bursary package is an encouragement for me. I easily fit in with my classmates in school, I concentrate in school and I have less worries and stress”. Receiving this support means that Flora can continue to succeed in school and work towards her dream of becoming a teacher to help improve education in her own community.