FMSI is currently implementing the Project “Equity of access to quality education for girls and disadvantaged children in Malawi”, thanks to the support of one of its main Donors, Misean Cara. Malawi has a high rate of illiteracy as many people are unable to read and write and if about 50% of girls in Malawi complete primary school, only a third of these make it to secondary school and only one in five graduates.

Girls’ education in Malawi is a huge challenge: Malawi has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world — more than 40% of its girls marry before 18. And once they wed, many of these girls drop out of school. In addition, a crisis like the pandemic is leading even more girls to give up on school. Girls Empowerment clubs, if properly supported by programs that enhance communication skills and self-confidence and psycho-social training and skills development, are able not only aimed to get girls into school, but also to ensure that girls learn and feel safe while in school; have the opportunity to complete all levels of education acquiring the knowledge and skills to compete in the labour market; learn the socio-emotional and life skills necessary to navigate and adapt to a changing world; make decisions about their own lives; and contribute to their communities and the world.

The 2 outcomes of this proposal are improving quality education in 4 Marist Schools and in 3 Non-Marist Schools in Malawi and ensuring the improvement of equal access to education in particular for girls. To achieve these outcomes, a set of activities will be implemented involving 7 schools, 2.974 students, 160 teachers, and various key stakeholders at local and national level. Among the main activities: 7 new girls empowerment clubs in each school to be created, stakeholders’ engagement, training of peer counsellors, empowerment of children and young people for a healthy, provision of material and support programs that enhance communication skills and self-confidence, psycho-social training and skills development.

From a rights-based approach, the project will also seek to lobby the government of Malawi to place education as a priority of all without any discrimination in both policy and practice. In particular, the project will aim at lobbying the government of Malawi through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. The project is consistent with three key priorities: education, health and human rights and, by reaching the envisaged outcomes. It will contribute to the enhancement of access to quality education in Malawi Secondary Marist and Non-Marist schools. To this end, activities will be implemented to produce measurable outputs to overcome the challenges and creating an impact in the schools and in the areas where the project will take place, helping the direct and indirect beneficiaries to be aware of their potential and letting girls being empowered also about their rights.

At the beginning of May, 2022, two FMSI Staff members carried out a field visit to monitor the implementation of the Project activities. In addition to the Executive Project Meetings, the team visited two of the seven schools involved in the Project, Msalura Community Day Secondary School and MAFCO Community Day Secondary School and had the chance to interview students, teachers, parents and headmasters. Interviews highlighted students’ in-depth knowledge of the Project, the issues that children and families face and all the ways in which the Project is contributing (and will contribute) to improving their education and lives. The FMSI team had also the possibility to interview the main Project stakeholders, Salima District Commissioner’s Office, Director of Education, Youth and Sports & Salima District Education Manager. Interviews highlighted stakeholders’ appreciation on the Project and their willingness to actively contribute to its implementation during all of the three years.

To date, this Project is reaching its scopes and all the team members involved, both in FMSI Office in Rome and in the field, is committed to assure it far beyond the Project duration.

THE PROJECT IN BRIEF:

The objective of the Project is to improve the quality of education in 4 Marist and 3 non-Marist schools in Malawi by ensuring the improvement of equal access to education, particularly for girls.

PROJECT MAIN FIGURES:

4,105 children who will have improved their ability to take health and safety measures

4,105 students will have improved their communication skills

4,105 students will benefit from ICT solutions

300 teachers and students trained

15 stakeholders involved in the project

8 girls empowerment clubs created

1,560 girls benefiting from the resilience, psycho-social training and skills development programme