A lack of awareness on sexual and reproductive health rights is fuelling cases of teen pregnancies and early marriages in Malawi’s central region district of Ntcheu.
The development is said to be hampering education among young people resulting to high school dropout.
Authorities in the district are attributing the trend due to sexual relationships among yhe youth.
Parents are also at fault as they are forcing their children especially girls into early marriages in order to sustain their daily livelihood.
And to eliminate the malpractices, Catholic Health Commission (CHC) under Dedza Diocese is implementing a health related project in the district.
The initiative known as Nzatonse is currently under way in all 10 Traditional Authorities and focus in sexual and reproductive health rights targeting school going youhts.
Speaking to Capital FM, Primary Education Advisor (PEA) for Tsangano Zone expressed sadness with the tendency by some parents who are forcing their children to get married at the tender age.
John Singano described the situation as pathetic stating it is affecting education hence contributing to high illiteracy levels among youths in the area.
However Singano reveals that despite the challenges, number of learners who are able to finish standard eight has now risen from 50% up to 100% unlike in the past.
The Tsanagano Zone PEA attributes all this to interventions by partners aimed at encouraging learners to be in school than engaging themselves into premarital sexual relationship that leads to teen pregnancies and early marriages.
Commenting on the development, Ntcheu District Youth Officer stated the development is heavily affecting youth development in the district.
Arberson Mwale then commended CHC with the initiative stressing that it will go a long way in addressing gaps that are contributing to early marriages and teen pregnancies.
CHC Diocesan Secretary for Dedza Diocese reaffirms total commitment in raising awareness to youths, parents as well as traditional and religious leaders in the area.
Robin Ngalande stressed that doing so will help to eliminate challenges that are affecting youths when accessing information on sexual and reproductive health rights.
“Nzatonse will continue raise awareness on the importance of education while in other hand sensitising communities and youths on issues to do with sexual and reproductive health rights.
What we want is to have responsible citizens that are literate and able to make informed decisions hence contributing to countries socio-economic development,” Ngalande said.
CHC under Dedza diocese is implementing Nzatonse project with financial support from KFW.
The idea is to equip young people with information in regards to sexual and reproductive health rights so as they make informed decisions besides encouraging them to go to school.