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29th November 2016 is the day the community of TA Makanjira in Salima District will live to remember. This is the day government officially handed over Nakaleza CDSS which is the first secondary school in the area.

Speaking during the handover ceremony, Secretary for Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Mary Shawa encouraged pupils at the school to work hard in their studies and refrain from early marriage.

“Your goals must be to be professionals in various fields, and that will only happen if you get married at the right age. For those girls and boys who already have children, I encourage you to enroll back in school. Let me add here that my message is going to both girls and boys. Sometimes boys think that early marriage does not negatively affect them. They however also get affected with the burden of taking care of a family and children at a young age,” she said.

Shawa then encouraged teachers to be loving towards their students, and to encourage them to work hard. She also asked the teachers to give out appropriate punishment when the students are in the wrong. In the same vein, Shawa asked the students to amicably resolve any issues they may have with management instead of rushing to destroy the school or property.

In his remarks, T/A Makanjira said he was very happy with the handover of the school. He said the school would help reduce the distance pupils’ travel from his area to other schools which are far from the community.

He said, “I cannot express my joy at this momentous occasion. Ever since the dawn of independence in Malawi, this area has never had a secondary school. We only had a primary school and students from this area were traveling long distances to access secondary education.”

The T/A added that although he is grateful for the school, the community foresees challenges since the school only has two blocks catering for form one and form two. He therefore pledged that his community is willing to help in the construction of other school blocks to ensure the school has enough school blocks.

Addressing the community UNFPA Resident Representative Dan Odallo said that he was very happy to see the efforts that the community and parents of Nakaleza had borne fruit. He thanked the parents for allowing their children attend school and highlighted that children who do not get an education lose out on a lot of opportunities. He then challenged the community to promote gender equality b ensuring that the number of boys and girls finishing school is the same as that which started form one.

“I would like to encourage you to give girls the opportunity to continue and finish their education. The goal of GEWE was to give everyone an equal chance to participate in the development of the country and communities. Let me assure you today, that UNFPA will continue to support governments efforts to develop the country,” he said.

During the handover ceremony, UNFPA also donated 150 desks to the school. Nakaleza CDSS was built under the GEWE Project with funding from the European Union through UNFPA. The community donated the land on which the school has been built.