Community engagement key towards ending child marriage
37-year old Ovaline Phiri lives in Chaliwa Village with her husband and four children (2 boys and 2 girls). She is the Parent - Teachers Association (PTA) Chairperson for Mbwiliwiza Primary School in Mzimba district. She herself was forced to leave school when she was in Standard 6 to take over household management when her sister fell sick and had to visit Lilongwe with her mother regularly for treatment.
If it was not for these difficulties, she would have stayed in school as long as possible and for this reason she wants her children to have the best education she can provide for them. Her oldest son has learning difficulties and was forced to withdraw from school as they cannot accommodate him, and she also has a child in Form 3, another in Standard 8 and the youngest is in Standard 4.
She thinks it’s particularly important for her children to have female teachers so that they have examples of educated women, and she thinks that every school should have at least one female teacher so that girls have someone to talk to about their needs and challenges, particularly around puberty. She also believes it is important for both girls and boys to receive training and information about teenage pregnancy and early marriage so they can make good decisions for themselves and be equal partners in their marriages. She herself has taken an active part in village efforts to eliminate early marriages.
She very much appreciates DAPP’s work and the student teachers who carry out placements in her village. Her children have benefited from remedial classes that they carry out with children who struggle with coursework. They have also been able to enjoy food produced in the school garden that student teachers made and maintain.
She’d really like her children to carry on their work in the future by having a part in teaching future generations of the community. If she could make one suggestion it would be that DAPP-trained teachers are posted to her village school once they graduate so that initiatives put in place during teaching placement are maintained in the longer-term.