By: Lloyd M’bwana
With determination and enthusiasm to reduce child abuses in primary school s through handset reporting, Forum for African Women Educationalists-Malawi Chapter (FAWEMA) has embarked a Text To Change (TTC) program in Lilongwe.
The program which among things propels the community to report cases of children abuses through mobile phones texting is being piloted in four rural primary schools in Lilongwe namely Mtenthera, Nkhoma, Mwatibu and Ching’ombe.
Raping, defilement, sending children to streets to beg, abandonment, brutal punishment by teachers are among the abuse children are facing hence TTC program launch.
With funding from International Institute of Communication and Development (IICD) through Connect for Change (C4C) project, the campaign runs for a year (till 2015), and is expecting to reduce children abuses therefore promoting education with full participation among learners in classes such that mothers groups, schools committees, chiefs and religious leaders are key partners in the implementation of the program.
Thus, for one to report any child abuse needs to send the word, FAWEMA to the code 55111 using TNM and Airtel networks freely which will follow series of questions on what type of abuse such a child is facing. So, an extent of the abuse determines which action FAWEMA could take in trucking down the challenge with follow ups.
Speaking during the official launch of the program Wednesday at Mwatibu Primary at Nathenje in Lilongwe rural east, Lucien Chikadza, District Education Manager (DEM) representative expressed gratitude on the initiative as would reduce absenteeism and drop outs.
“When children are abused in any form, they lose concentration in their studies resulting into absenteeism, drop outs which affects education standards. Thus, the initiative is timely looking at what the children of this area are going through”, said Chikadza who appealed to communities making use of the program for intended purposes.
In her remarks, Stella Banda, FAWEMA’s trustee member said the organization‘s expectations were high towards implementation of the program based on the response got from communities upon sensitization.
“We are getting overwhelming responses from the communities after they were sensitized therefore we expect reduction of any child abuses which will enhance learners full participation in classes and we are hoping to scale up the program to other area after piloting it here”, said Banda.
Speaking during the same launch Judith Schoot UiterKamp, IICD Country program officer assured the nation of the continual financial support towards implementation of the program which according to her would be extended to other primary schools in southern and northern region of this the nation.
“We are continuing with financial support as the program will be scaled up in the south and north regions of this country end of this year that children abuses must be stopped that education standards is promoted”, assures UiterKamp whose institution is based in Netherlands.
FAWEMA was established in 1993 which is implementing various programs in Malawi in partnership with Ministry of Education, Emmanuel Teachers college (ETC) and Christian Educators in Malawi (CEM) to support girls and women to acquire education and training for development.