Government has urged school managers and parents to understand the many pieces of legislation that the National Assembly has enacted to ensure education standards especially for girls are improved.
First Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Malungo Chisangano says there is a need to support the cause of having girls to return and in role in school as it has a far reaching positive impact on girls, families and society at large.
Ms Chisangano was speaking when she officiated at the third annual retreat on keeping girls in school (KGS) held at Luuumbo Secondary school in Gwembe district of Southern Province.
She stated that International evidence indicates that keeping girls in school has positive effects on their trajectory and benefits the wellbeing of the next generation.
“When girls are exposed to quality education, they build numeracy, literacy, cognitive and skills, making them better prepared to participate in the labour market and gain an income,” Ms Chisangano stated.
Ms Chisangano added that girls’ attendance in school during adolescence is correlated with delayed sexual initiation and subsequently marriage and childbearing.
Therefore, increasing enrolment and improving school performance, by keeping girls in school, has many positive impacts on the well-being of not only this generation, but the many generations to come.
“This is the reason the great importance that has been attached to girls education in Zambia, in this regard, some of the laws enacted to protect girls include, the Education act of 2011, which provides for GBV protection of employees, teachers, and learners at educational institutions, as well as establishing mechanisms for dealing with GBV” she stated.
“Others are the anti-Gender-based violence act of 2011, which provides among others, for the protection of GBV survivors, the establishment of Anti- GBV committee and the Anti GBV Fund,” she stressed.
Ms Chisangano also cited the penal code amendment act number 5 of 2005, which introduced the offence of sexual harassment and made indecent assault a felony.
She further quoted the Gender Equity and Equality act number 22 of 2015 with some objectives such as to promote gender equity and equality as a cross-cutting issue in all spheres of life and stimulate productive resources and development opportunities for both sexes among others.
At the same event, Assistant KGS Coordinator, Obbie Musaka, speaking on behalf of KGS coordinator, Willie Kaputo said the GEWEL project focuses on increasing access to livelihood support for extremely poor rural women and access to secondary education for disadvantaged adolescent girls in extremely poor households in selected districts.
Mr Musaka stated that to realise this goal the project has three components which is the Supporting Women’s Livelihoods initiative being implemented in MCDSS, while the second component is the Keeping Girls in School Initiative which is implemented in MOE and MCDSS.
He said the third component is the Institutional Strengthening and System Building (ISSB) anchored at Gender Division and MCDSS.
“ Specifically, the objective of KGS has been to provide bursaries to vulnerable secondary school going girls living in Social Cash Transfer households in selected districts and that Since project inception, the project has reached out to 31,762 girls,” Mr Musaka said.
Mr Musaka stressed that the KGS selection criteria are that a girl must have qualified for secondary school, and passed grade 7 or 9, or out of school with acceptance letter and able to return to school.
“Other requirements are that a girl must be living in a SCT household in the selected district and has been a member of that household for Six (6) months and must not be benefiting from another bursary or scholarship programme for their education,” Mr Musaka explained.
He clarified that KGS pays school fees, boarding fees for those in boarding schools, exam fees and that this year the Government, through the GEWEL Project, will begin paying education grants to SCT households with enrolled KGS beneficiaries to help the girls buy some school necessities.
Mr Musaka further said the education grant payments will be made in addition to the KGS bursary support to help cover expenses related to school such as uniform, shoes and supplies and that SCT households will receive K 252 annually for each girl enrolled in KGS.
“In order to mitigate the challenge of distance for girls to access education, the project also funds the improvement of school owned weekly boarding facilities for girls to make them safe, secure and conducive for girls to live in,” he added.
Mr Musaka said in the fourth quarter of 2021 the Ministry through KGS PIU will embark on the vigorous process of transferring girls to safe boarding facilities effective the first term of 2022 academic year.
He said Education authorities at provincial, district and school levels will be required to play a critical role in making sure that the exercise is conducted successfully.
“Further, against the backdrop that provision of school fees is not a panacea to retaining girls in school, the KGS component has witnessed the challenge of girls dropping out of school. For instance, in 2020 a total of 2,973 out of 13,514 girls supported dropped out representing 22%. Key reasons attributed to the dropping out included teen pregnancies, marriages and long distances to accessing schools,” he said.
“In order to address the dropping out challenge, KGS has developed a number of systems. Key among the systems developed are the Case Management System and the Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM).The CMS is core to the KGS project objective of increasing access, participation, retention and progression of vulnerable adolescent girls in secondary education. The CMS interventions target three categories of girls, namely:
i) Girls at-risk of missing school days or dropping out;
ii) Girls who have dropped out of school already and
iii) The eligible but out of school girls who may require extra support to enroll.
Mr Musaka said as outlined in the three categories the system is both preventive and responsive as it seeks to detect, prevent and deter risks that KGS beneficiary girls may potentially face that are likely to hinder their access and progression in secondary education.
He said the system links the girls at-risk to appropriate support services and alternative forms of education to mitigate the identified risks.
“GRM is a system through which queries or clarifications about the project are responded to, problems that arise out of implementation are resolved, and grievances are addressed efficiently and effectively. The GRM will allow stakeholders to have a platform to air out grievances they might have towards the implementation of the project,” he stated.
“ The rationale of the GRM is to ensure communities use the system, communities are sensitized on their rights to complain, staff understand what is going well or poorly with programme design and implementation, and ensure different Government programmes are addressed in a systematic manner,” he stated.
Mr Musaka stressed that the project will further empower learners who are victims or survivors of School Related Gender Based Violence and help them to become active participants in the transformation of their communities.
He also said Advocacy sessions championed by survivors or victims will have long term impact on learning environments and homes to be free from serial Violence or harassment and physical abuse.
“In line with the New Dawn Government’s development Agenda, KGS will continue to enroll additional girls on the project and is targeting to reach out to 43,520 girls in 2022. To this effect, the Ministry through the KGS PIU just conducted the Mop up exercise in all the 39 KGS districts to recruit eligible girls living in the recently enumerated Social Cash Transfer (SCT) households,” Mr Musaka said.
“All this is the demonstration of Governments’ commitment through the Ministry of Education to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal Number 4 of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting long life learning opportunities for all.
The Keeping Girls in School (KGS) Initiative is a component under the Girls’ Education and Women’s Empowerment and Livelihood (GEWEL) Project and currently being implemented by the Government of Zambia with support from the World Bank. The Project which is being implemented in the two
Ministries of the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services (MCDSS) and Ministry of General Education (MOGE) are coordinated by the Gender Division – Cabinet Office.
Every year since 2019, Gwembe District holds the Annual retreat for the Keeping Girls in School beneficiaries. The retreats are aimed at raising awareness for the return and enrolment of all girls who have dropped out of school for various reasons.
Additionally, the event enables bringing all old and new KGS girls together so that they can share real life experiences and be encouraged that despite the hardships of life, they can go to school and create a better life for themselves and their families