Joint Programme on Girls' Education visit to Salima

JPGE visit to Salima (2).jpg
An important message from one of the learners at Demera Primary School in Salima. Photo: RNE.

The Norwegian Embassy supports UN’s Joint Programme on Girls’ Education. Delegates from the embassy undertook a school visit today to Demera Primary School in Salima, and the Norwegian Counsellor Vigdis Cristofoli held a speech at the event. Mr Lloyd Muhara, Chief Secretary Office of the President and Cabinet, was the guest of honour. The Secretary of Education, Science and Technology Doctor Ndala also participated, along with Heads of Agencies from WFP, UNICEF and UNFPA.

“ Not all girls and boys in Malawi complete basic education. This has serious consequences, not only for the children or youth but also for Malawi as a country. The large young population needs education so that they can break the inter-generational cycle of poverty and contribute to economic growth and development of this nation.

Currently, more girls than boys are dropping out of school. Girls, more often than boys need to attend to household work, they marry or they get pregnant too early. For some girls early pregnancies contributes to major health threats, sometimes life-threatening.

Acknowledging the importance of an educated population in Malawi, Norway started to support the One UN Joint Program on Girls’ Education in 2014.

The project aims to improve the access, quality and relevance of education for girls’ through a holistic and human rights-based approach. Simultaneously, the programme addresses key threats such as poor food and nutrition, inadequate protection, poor quality schooling, and violations of girls’ sexual and reproductive rights by working through the different sectors. This multi-sectoral approach yields results, documented by increased retentions, especially among girls.

The Norwegian Government is pleased to hear about these results. We are also satisfied to see the building up of increased dialogue between the key ministries, education and health in particular, to try to resolve some of the issues in a collaborative manner. 

Acknowledging that the Marriage Act will have a positive effect on young girls and women’s opportunities when it is properly enforced, there is still some way to go to ensure girls the sexual and reproductive health and rights.

At school, girls can be informed about their rights, and empowered to claim them. Investment in suitable life skills education is therefore imperative to equip the girls, and boys, with knowledge on how to run their lives and protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancies.

The important role of the local communities’ investment, leadership and participation in the project has been demonstrated here today as key to the success of the model that we would like to encourage in the furthering.

We are looking forward to the feedback on the way forward after this visit. If the government find the JPGE model as a model that can yield results and increased investments in girls’ education, Norway is committed to support JPGE for a second phase. This will be further discussed at the national consultation on girls’ education scheduled to take place on June 1st.

The project attracts interest in Oslo. Our politicians and headquarters, and our Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs has good knowledge of the JPGE in Malawi. She visited the project in November last year. She was pleased with the achievements, but stressed the need for continuing the work in a manner that includes girls and boys so that girls and boys opportunities are developing equally.

Zikomo kwambiri - thank you! “