Aug 20, 2017 Last Updated 2:22 PM, Aug 18, 2017
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Rihanna's Clara Lionel Foundation  has teamed up with Ofo, a Beijing-based bike-share initiative, to help young girls in Malawi get to school.

"I'm so happy about the Clara Lionel Foundation's new partnership with ofo because it will help so many young people around the world receive a quality education, and also help the young girls of Malawi get to school safely, cutting down those very long walks they make to and from school all alone," Rihanna said in a statement. 

The “1 KM Action” partnership has already sent its first set of bikes to Malawi and it will also fund scholarships for these female students through Rihanna's Global Scholarship Program.

Although 4.6 million children attend primary school in Malawi, only 8 percent complete secondary school. More girls drop out than boys due to a number of issues, transportation being one of them.

"We are delighted to work with Rihanna and the Clara Lionel Foundation on this innovative initiative as we are keen to help improve education accessibility for students living in poverty," ofo founder and CEO Dai Wei said in Tuesday's press release. “We believe in unlocking every corner in the world with equal access to education as well as with our bike-sharing scheme."

Rihanna visited Malawi earlier this year with the Global Partnership for Education in order to speak with students, educators, and government officials about the best way to "build a better educational future for Malawians."

In a previously released video, Rihanna shared footage of her trip and spoke about the experience. "It's such a pity that they have to drop out, because they are so smart," she said. "Everybody's learning together and learning at the same pace, it seems. It's sad that has to end for some of them, because they could probably do so much if they had the resources to continue and complete."

Providing young girls with a way to get to school quickly and safely is definitely a step in the right direction.

Members of the public are being encouraged to be development minded in a bid to sustain development in respective areas.

The sentiments follow a donation of iron sheets and bags of cement to Livalo primary school in Malawi’s central region district of Ntcheu by a former student.

Mathias Chatuluka who used to be a student at the primary school has used money over MK200, 000 to purchase materials required for construction.

The materials are expected to be used in constructing the schools headmaster’s office block.

Speaking to Capital FM, Chatuluka pointed out that development cannot happen if citizens are not giving back to the community they belong to. 

He stressed that the citizenry should be in the forefront in developing their respective areas and not wait for donors.

"We are a change in development hence the need for us to be proactive in giving out to respective communities.

I am appealing to all bona-fide citizens of this village to come forward in developing the school and the area at large," explained Chatuluka.

Headmaster for the school hailed the donation stating will go a long way in address the current situation whereby the current block is small and dilapidated.

Dickson Kufankomwe then assured safety of the donated building materials stating will be used for intended purpose.

He therefore appealed for more support since the schools has also inadequate classroom blocks considering the huge number of learners enrolled at the school.

"At the moment we have over 1,200 learners enrolled at the school but the classroom blocks are not enough to accommodate them.

Therefore we ask people of goodwill to come a forth to help in address some of these challenges at the school, "He lamented.

Livalo primary school which has classes from standard 1 to 8 was established in 1967.

The school serves pupils from over 10 surrounding villages all under Senior chief Makwangwala in Ntcheu district. 

Malawi government officials are stressing that regular monitoring of construction projects is the best way to rectify the issues of substandard works affecting most projects in the country.

This comes amid concerns that for the past years contractors have been frustrating government as they have delivered sub-standard works despite agreements to carry on standard works.

Through this, Capital Hill has lost huge sums of money.

Speaking to Capital FM after Ntcheu district council signed a contractual agreement with a contractor identified to construct a stadium in the district.

Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development stated that it is worrisome to see construction projects being done contrary to a client’s expectations.

Kiswel Dakamau believes the contractor; Plem Construction Limited will deliver as is expected by the ministry.

“You may recall that the contractor is the same who constructed both Dedza and Balaka stadiums hence we expect him to do the good work he did with the latter.

What we want is infrastructures that will withstand with time and hope the same will be with Ntcheu stadium,” Dakamau explained.

However the Local Government and Rural Development Principal Secretary disclosed the structure will help to enhance revenue collection for Ntcheu district council once finished.

He stressed that with decentralization, infrastructures like stadiums are of great importance in bring in more revenue to council hence helping them render good service delivery to its communities.

Representatives of Plem Construction Limited assured authorities to work to their satisfactory considering huge sums of money government is pumping in to the construction project.

Government through Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has funded the 20,000 capacity Ntcheu stadium MK4.6 Billion and expect to complete in a year once construction works start at the site.

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world and its economy is worsening.

Malawians are struggling to earn enough money to feed their families.

As such earning a living, is vital for survival.

To make matters worse, Malawi is also facing a serious youth unemployment crisis and the highest working poverty rate in the world.

The working poor are working people whose income falls below the given poverty line.

According to a 2013 report b the National Statistical Office and he International Labour Organisation, only 11.3% of the working population is in formal employment.

A large part of the population is left to fend for themselves with over 54% being self-employed.

If young people are to succeed in the global job market, there needs to be a stronger focus on entrepreneurial education.

High unemployment levels co-exist with increased difficulties in filling vacancies.

For instance, most job applications leave a lot to be desired

As a result, potential employers are left with no option but to advertise for people with many years of experience.

This however raises concerns amongst young people, who feel that they are not being given an opportunity to get a job after leaving college.

Some young people find it difficult to explore alternative business avenues.

They feel that certain jobs are area specific.

For example urban youth will not venture into farming because the job requires one to mainly work in a rural area.

However, investing into modern agriculture can be very successful in meeting the growing demand for food by Malawi’s population and also yield good financial returns.

Most young people I’ve spoken to mainly want to venture into business in the cities.

Our current education system needs support if it is going to adapt to such challenges.

Tools, such as entrepreneurship education, show good results because they focus on soft and core skills, including: problem-solving as well as team-building.

It is also essential for young people to obtain other skills such as learning to learn, social, initiative-taking, entrepreneurship, and cultural awareness.

Entrepreneurship education not only enables young people to start a successful business, but also to become valuable contributors to Malawi's economy.

Even in the most advanced education systems, however, entrepreneurship education lies in the hands of the few secondary school teachers who've been properly trained.

One would ask; has vocational education training been given the attention it deserves?

To address these issues the country must generate greater awareness of the benefits of entrepreneurship education.

Malawians also need to focus on teachers who do not have access to the training to deliver entrepreneurial learning. 

A group of young girls in Karonga district known as Girls With a Vision is working on ensuring that their fellow girls know how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections and early pregnancies.

 The grouping went to Maghemo secondary school to counsel their peers.

One of the group’s leading members, 20 year old Phaless Kawonga said girls in the district are at a high risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections including HIV and AIDS.

Kawonga added that this is so due to peer pressure and this prevents from pursueing their studies hence the group’s decision to come up with an initiative to help them refrain from such malpractices through debates.

“We had a debate on the effects of abortion and premarital sex being a common challenge that derail their future so in our activities we teach our fellow girls to refrain from such practices,” said Kawonga.

Kawonga further cited some of the challenges they are facing when trying to advise their colleagues on the importance of abstaining from premarital and casual sex where most of their peers underrate them and ignore their piece of advice.

Speaking to Capital FM on the importance of such debates among girls in schools, one of the teachers at the school who is also a matron for Maghemo Youth Club, Jane Chekecheke said the initiative will really help young girls avoid indulging in casual sex thereby helping them concentration more on their studies.

Chekecheke said, “This is a very important initiative as it will help improve the mindset of girls on issues of abortion and premarital sex which has become a serious challenge among young girls in many schools.”

Girls With a Vision are implementing their objectives to rescue more girls from dropping out of school due to early pregnancies and HIV and AIDS with support from the Foundation for Community Support Services (FOCUS) and Kachila Youth Initiatives (KAYI).

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