Mutharika, said this on Tuesday at Kawale Community Day Secondary School (CDSS) in Lilongwe during the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of 250 secondary schools across Malawi.
The project is under Secondary Education Expansion for Development (SEED) and is jointly financed by the United State Government and the Malawi Government to the tune of $90million, an approximate of MK72billion, and it aims at increasing access to secondary schools across the country and reduce HIV risk in Malawi.
Said Mutharika: “The Government of Malawi is not only committed to educating Malawi’s youth, but also to ensuring their health, including HIV prevention, and well-being. Therefore, we will also work with health centers located near secondary schools to provide age-appropriate youth friendly health services. Furthermore, those health centers will report and work to eliminate any stigma related to youth seeking services such as HIV prevention, family planning, sexually transmitted infection prevention and treatment, and gender-based violence treatment. Without educated and healthy young people, Malawi will not prosper.”
Taking his turn, U.S. Ambassador to Malawi Robert Scott said “Investing in young people is a priority because educated youth, especially girls, enjoy greater economic prosperity, raise healthier children, and invest in their families and communities.”
Ambassador Scott also emphasized that there was growing evidence that keeping girls in school could reduce HIV infection by delaying sexual debut.
“Therefore, the U.S. Government is committed to working with the Government of Malawi to bring secondary schools closer to where girls and boys live, especially those who come from rural communities.”
Scott added that: “There is growing evidence that keeping girls in school can reduce HIV infection by delaying sexual debut, preventing child marriage and early pregnancy, as well as increasing economic self-sufficiency. Therefore, the U.S. Government is committed to working with the Government of Malawi to bring secondary schools closer to where girls and boys live, especially those who come from rural communities.”
According to Scott, through SEED, the U.S. Government will construct 96 new classrooms in 30 existing overcrowded urban secondary schools in Lilongwe, Blantyre, Zomba, and Mzuzu, and up to 200 new Community Day Secondary Schools in more rural areas in every district in Malawi.
In his remarks, William Susuwele Banda, Minister of Education, Science and Technology, committed that his ministry would take a leading role in “maintaining the new school structures as well as providing the necessary qualified secondary school teachers.”
“The Ministry will also mitigate the effects of HIV/AIDS through the National Curriculum Policy, which will inform the development of comprehensive sexuality education for students in primary and secondary school.”
The SEED program comes at a time when access to secondary school is limited in Malawi. Many students are not selected to enter secondary school due to limited space. Those selected must often travel more than 20 km every day to attend school. By bringing secondary schools closer to where girls and boys live through the SEED program, the GOM and USG hope to alleviate key barriers that hinder students, particularly adolescent girls and young women, from accessing and completing secondary school, helping to prevent HIV.