President Joyce Banda has marveled the role the private sector play in Malawi’s democratization and development admitting that the government cannot go it alone. The Malawi leader was speaking at Ludzi girls secondary school in Mchinji where a private broadcaster, Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) was officially presenting 2012 MSCE Zodiak Best Girl Awards to the winning girls.
“Education is one best weapon that helps fight poverty especially if we educate the girl child and what Zodiak is doing cannot be taken for granted. I thank Zodiak for the good initiative and call upon other companies to emulate such an initiative, and to the awardees I urge you to make success a habit,” the president said.
ZBS managing director Mr. Gospel Kazako said Zodiak Broadcasting Station is committed to uplifting education standards in the country hence unveiling the ‘Zodiak Girl Child Award’ in 2006 which recognizes girls who score six points in Malawi School Certificate examinations by providing them with scholarships which the station obtain from the Chinese government to enable the girls undergo university studies in China.
The managing director however advised the government that it should look into the country’s teachers’ welfare which is so appalling, so that the dwindling education standards are uplifted.
“Your Excellency, if we would start telling the nation the problems teachers face it would take most of our programming. There are lots and lots of complaints that we hear from teachers across the country and we appeal to you to look into their welfare,” said Kazako.
Some of the problems that teachers in Malawi face are; late receiving of monthly wages, poor housing and working conditions, failure to access loans, lack of promotions and career development. Malawian teachers are also poorly paid though it is a demanding job.
In her reaction, Malawi’s education minister, Mrs. Eunice Kazembe, said the government will look into the concerns as a matter of urgency so that the welfare of teachers and the whole education sector is indeed up lifted while the president revealed that the government is building girls hostels, training more teachers and providing both teaching and learning resources to enable the teachers and pupils have a conducive teaching and learning environment, respectively.
The president also disclosed that teachers deployed to rural areas are given n a rural allowance as an incentive, adding; “We are promoting girls education through the re-admission policy which allow girls who fall pregnant to go back to school, and with effect from this year the government will start awarding teachers in schools that excel.”
President Banda explained that education, especially educating the girl child, is crucial in ending poverty in the country, and to show her government commitment in the girl child education, Mrs. Banda, who also runs education institution called Joyce Banda Foundation that also pays fees for needy students in Malawi schools and colleges, announced that three other girls who scored seven points be offered a scholarship to study in the United States of America.
“At the heart of my vision as Malawi president is to lift people out of poverty through economic empowerment and one powerful means to achieve this vision is powering people through education,” the Malawi leader, the first female president in Southern Africa.
The president also noted that ensuring that young women stay in schools does not only reduce the chances of early pregnancy but also helps in transforming the nation since they are adequately prepared to be economically active and have a voice in many issues like family planning.
“It is sad that when you are poor and not educated having children becomes the preoccupation of the family whereas when you are educated and earning some money you have options in your life and even able to discuss family planning issues,” noted the president.
This is the third time Ludzi girls secondary school has produced awardees, and the president said: “I congratulate the headmistress and her entire staff for producing such high caliber achievers.”
In the starting year, two female students from St. Mary’s girls secondary and one from Ludzi got the award. Most of the awardees chose to study medicine and economics.
The president also assured the nation that her government will continue ensuring that media freedom is sustained.
“Zodiak has played and continues to play a critical role in ensuring that our democracy is sustained by timely informing the people, remaining nonpartisan and providing a platform for accountability and i assure you that my government will continue ensuring media freedom is guaranteed in this country,” the Malawi leader said.
The ceremony was graced by many high profile people that included the Chinese Ambassador to Malawi and the Archbishop of Lilongwe Catholic diocese under which Ludzi falls.
The Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) is the highest secondary school award in Malawi and conditions for the award of the MSCE is that one has to obtain a pass in six subjects, including English, with a pass –with-credit in at least one of them or obtain a pass in five subjects, including English, with a pass-with-credit in at least three of them.
A pass-with-credit in a subject of the MSCE is equivalent to an O’ level pass for the General Certificate of Education in the United Kingdom.
Grades 1 and 2 (points) are distinctions whereas 3 to 6 are credits, while 7 and 8 are passes. Grade 9 is Fail.
For one to obtain 6 points it means that the candidate scored 1 point in each of the six graded subjects, no mean feat especially to a Malawian girl child given the hardships they go through and in adequate learning materials in most schools in the country.
Zodiak Broadcasting Station has been voted as the best electronic media in an annual Namisa award for many years in Malawi. The radio station has been the only private radio able to cover parliamentary proceedings in Malawi and recently it has registered in Malawi’s history as the only radio station to have brought the country’s head of state on the airwaves to answer questions from the general citizenry live.
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