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Thursday, 06 December 2018 08:35

Minister of Education applauds World Bank for efforts in ending child marriages

Written by  Jeremiah Mphande
The Minister of Education Science and Technology, Bright Msaka The Minister of Education Science and Technology, Bright Msaka

Lilongwe, December 6, 2018: The Minister of Education Science and Technology, Bright Msaka has commended the World Bank for complementing government’s efforts in a quest to ending child marriages in the country.

The minister made the remarks on Tuesday at BICC in Lilongwe when he presided over the official launch of the 8th edition of the World Bank’s Malawi Economic Monitor report whose title is “Investing in Girls’ Education”.

Msaka noted with great concern that Malawi is among the countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa which have the highest rates of child marriages.

“It is very disheartening for me and very disappointing as a nation to note that Malawi has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the sub-Saharan region, this is surely a status we must quickly rid ourselves of,” noted Msaka.

He then applauded the World Bank on its efforts in identifying and demonstrating the negative impact of early child marriages and low education attainment for girls.

“The report will assist Government and its stakeholders to make a case for the interventions that are necessary to eliminate the practice and to persuade all decision makers to invest more in girls,” said Msaka.

He said the current statistics indicate that four in 10 women are marrying before the age of 18 while in some cases some girls at the same age will have given birth three times.

Msaka however, attributed the rise in child marriages to poverty situations mainly in rural areas adding that the practice is further perpetuated by barriers to quality education and families’ prioritization of boys’ rather than girls’ education.

On the other hand while referring to most surveys the Minister said most of the times parents attribute their daughters’ dropping out of school due to marriage and pregnancy.

According to Msaka this is against the available evidence that strongly shows that keeping girls in school significantly reduces the risk of child marriage and early childbearing.

“With pervasive poverty situation especially in rural areas, young girls are sometimes married off early because of lack of viable alternatives of income for their families,” he said.

He then observed that child marriages have, without doubt, significant negative impacts not only for the girls themselves but also for a range of development outcomes in the country.

“Child marriage impacts on fertility and population growth, health and nutrition work and earnings all this slows down our country’s prospects for economic growth and our efforts at reducing poverty.

“And when poverty becomes endemic among a people, we end up with child marriages hence a vicious cycle,” explained the education minister.

He said despite the progress that Malawi has registered in its strides to ending the vice; the prevalence of child marriage still remains much higher than in most neighboring countries.

“At the current rate of progress, it will be difficult for Malawi unlike our neighbors, to achieve the related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we therefore must curb child marriage and early child bearing otherwise poverty will be difficult to conquer,” said Msaka.

World Bank Country Manager, Greg Toulmin concurred with the Minister’s observation saying low education attainment, child marriages and early child bearing affect the girls’ life trajectories in many ways.

“Girls marrying or dropping out of school early are more likely to experience poor health and will most likely have more children overtime and earn less in adulthood,” said Toulmin.

He further said the high rate of population growth in Malawi is clearly linked with the fact that most girls do not complete secondary school with too many girls marrying or having their first child before the age of 18.

The Malawi Economic Monitor (MEM) is a publication published by the World Bank every six months aimed to foster better informed policy analysis and debate on Malawi’s development challenges.

The publication includes a review of recent macroeconomic outlook and a special topic key to longer term development.