Malawi Relief Fund has donated K4 million to assist 100 school girls in Kasungu
* A response to appeal made by First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Madalitso Kazombo
* Fundraising campaign further enhanced by girl-child advocate Cathie Matura on social media
* Many others came forward to only offer teaching services as revision
By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawi Relief Fund (MRF)-UK has donated K4 million to assist 100 school girls in Kasungu to re-take the Malawi School of Certificate of Education (MSCE), that has been riddled with controversy since last year.
MRF-UK was responding to an appeal made by First Deputy Speaker of Malawi Parliament, Madalitso Kazombo who had posted on his Facebook page of his concerns when 60% of the students who sat for the 2020 MSCE exams failed.
The exams were supposed to have been taken in June last year but failed after schools were closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and when schools were opened, the Form 4 students were given just two weeks to prepare before sitting for the exams in October.
But when the exams were being administered in October, massive leakage and cheating was discovered — prompting the government to cancel them and re-administer fresh ones that were taken in January this year.
The fresh exams were declared by the Ministry of Education as free of leakage but they yielded very discouraging results as almost a 60% failed, which Minister of Education Agnes NyaLonje described as the worst in the past decade but she was quick to attribute the poor performance to circumstances that led to the cancellation of the 2020 exams in October.
Malawi National Examination Board (MANEB) then announced the extension deadline for registration of candidates for the 2021 MSCE examinations to April 16 to give an opportunity for those that did not perform well in the 2020 exams to re-take through the 2021 process.
The First Deputy Speaker’s Facebook appeal for assistance for his Kasungu East Constituency’s affected learners, prompted girl-child advocate Cathie Matula to also take to social media by joining the fundraising campaign.
Kazombo, Member of Parliament for Kasungu East, had appealed for help to send back the girls to re-take the exams taking cognizance that Kasungu being a tobacco district, the sales season might affect the girls to being sexually exploited.
He had also hinted that since sales of the cash crop would likely go low and affect economic livelihoods of some households, girls focus on education might also be affected.
In her personal capacity, whenever she sees a cause — being a woman and communications consultant — Matura said she took it upon herself to join the campaign and through he connections and network, she managed to reach out to many people as possible “with some responding to only offer teaching services for revision”.
“That was a relief and I went further looking for exam fees and finally landed this gold from Malawi Relief Fund-UK, of whom the Honourable MP and myself are very grateful of and we all owe them some respect.
“The girls are happy and they have pledged to revise as hard as possible in order not to disappoint — something that made me and MRF-UKproud of,” she said.
MRF-UK’s country coordinator Yakub Valli, saying they are greatly honored to assist, hoping that the girls will take this seriously and make all of those that have been involved in this initiative proud.
“The future belongs to the youths and some have gone a step further to say the future is female which is true,” Valli said. “Malawian women are well known for their hardworking spirit.
“They are the ones carrying the whole of Malawi on their shoulders — in the maize gardens, in the homes, markets and now we are happy more and more of them are pursuing their studies and joining the marketplace and across all sectors of society that is traditionally dominated by their male counterparts.
“When you see the faces of these 100 girls receiving this support today, one can see determination in their decision to re-write their examinations and pursue their dream — that’s the spirit!”
“However, it is interventions like this that stand out unlike the others where we are giving a priceless gift of an education to a girl-child,” Valli said.MRF-UK has been involved in many other projects across the country aimed at alleviating poverty in giving out food handouts; providing new houses; carrying out livelihood projects; providing access to clean water, the gift of sight among many other projects.
MRF-UK manages a Talha Scholarship that reaches out to more 240 students in various universities and colleges in which over a 100 females are in teacher training programmes.
“We are humbled by this opportunity to play our part in joining forces with community leaders, school authorities and the Malawi Government to ensure our girls continue their education as means to stay safe from early child marriages and exploitation.
“Our economy needs you. girls. Malawi needs you and our organization is proud to be associated with you and playing our role in helping you build a better future for yourselves, families, community and Malawi as a whole.
“We hope you will make the most of this opportunity. We encourage our communities, other NGOs to help motivate and make it possible for our girls to pursue their education,” Valli said.