Kachila Youth Initiative (KYI), a local Non-Govermental Organization (NGO) in Karonga expressed concern over the alarming increase of teenage pregnancies and child marriages in the district.
The development comes in the wake of revelation by education authorities that 16 girls at Ngelenge Community Day Secondary School, had dropped out of school due to pregnancies this year’s school calendar alone, a situation which left authorities head confused.
According to William Ngwira, KYI executive director, failure by authorities to include youths in developmental programmes among others, leave the youth with nothing to do except to indulge in harmful behavior, such as premarital sex.
“Chiefs have a big role to play in terms of sensitizing parents in their areas to encourage their girl-child to go to school, as this will accord them a better life to become productive citizens,” he said.
In his remarks, youth-friendly health services officer at Karonga District Hospital, Davie Chilewani said cultural practices and poverty is forcing parents to marry off their daughters as they will get a huge pay day from men as lobola.
“It’s unfortunate that some parents go as far as withdrawing girls from school when they have reached as far as form 3 to marry them off, and this must stop if we are to win the battle against teenage pregnancies and child marriages,” he lamented.
Kachila implementes a project dubbed “youth empowerment project,” which aims to empower the youth to speak out on issues of sexual reproductive health, and youth-friendly services, among others. The project is run with financial support of 14 million kwacha from the Tilitonse Fund.