Girls belong in the classroom

Leaving no girl behind

Sellina Kainja
Mvera CDSS student Bridget Phiri, holding her text books.
UNICEF Malawi/2020/Laurine Meke
11 February 2020

Every year, girls across Malawi drop out of school due to teenage pregnancies, early marriages and lack of school fees.

A group of Spotlight scholarship beneficiaries pose for a group photo at Mvera CDSS in Dowa.
UNICEF Malawi/2020/Laurine Meke
A group of Spotlight scholarship beneficiaries pose for a group photo at Mvera CDSS in Dowa.

About 17 girls at Mvera Community Day Secondary School were given a second chance with their secondary education thanks to the European Unions's (EU) Spotlight Initiative which has eased their return to school through scholarships.

 

Beneficiaries of the EU Spotlight Initiative from Golong’ozi Community Day Secondary School in  Dowa District.
UNICEF Malawi/2020/Sellina Kainja
Beneficiaries of the EU Spotlight Initiative from Golong’ozi Community Day Secondary School in Dowa District.

“People including my own father told me that I will never become anyhting in life and that I should forget about going back to school. He constantly reminds and mocks me each time I am getting ready for school. But I have challenged him to watch me become a force in my community. I want to improve my life and my family’s, and to be a role model in my community. I no longer pay attention to what people are saying about me. I am focused on my education and my dreams. I am happy that Spotlight has come to our rescue with the tuition scholarship and I can already see my dream of becoming a nurse come true. ” Ruth, Form 4 student (second from left)

Spotlight beneficiary Monica Kazembe is happy to be back in class after dropping out of school
UNICEF Malawi/2019/Laurine Meke
Spotlight beneficiary Monica Kazembe is happy to be back in class after dropping out of school

The Spotlight Initiative is a United Nations Joint Programme with UNICEF, UN Women, UNFPA and UNDP with funding from the EU. In partnership with the Malawi Government, the programme seeks to eliminate violence against women and girls, including sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and harmful practices.

Monica Kazembe enjoying a class session at Mvera CDSS.
UNICEF Malawi/2020/Laurine Meke
Monica Kazembe enjoying a class session at Mvera CDSS.

The Spotlight scholarships cater for the girl's school fees, but also other necessities like uniforms, learning materials, sanitary pads and boarding costs. 

Spotlight beneficiaries interacting in class.
UNICEF Malawi/2020/Laurine Meke
Spotlight beneficiaries interacting in class.

True to Spotlight’s motto, these are modern girls who know what they want and are determined to achieve their goals.