Dedza district has registered a decrease in cases of child rights violations, thanks to a child rights literacy project, which National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Public Trust is implementing in conjunction with the Malawi Law Commission.
The project, which is titled Legal Literacy Programme, aims to increase awareness of gender-related violence and is being supported by UNICEF.
One of the volunteers Isdor Maposa disclosed that there is a significant reduction in cases of child rights violations in the district.
Maposa added that the project has helped a lot as children are also able to understand the laws and report to relevant authorities at the school level when they are faced with a rights violation case.
“We are putting suggestion boxes in all schools where students can drop whatever issues they are going through. Now children are able to report violations of their rights and the perpetrators are being brought to book,” he said.
Peace Ketulo, a teacher at Tapezana Primary School in the district, said the project has empowered children to report cases of abuse in their societies.
“As teachers, we have seen a great improvement on the part of the learners in reporting incidents, as in the past some could not perform well in class because they had been abused, but with these engagements, many children are able to participate,” said Ketulo.
And speaking from Matewe Full Primary School, head teacher of the school, Brave Kuwache said child abuse is one of the contributing factors to low performance in class among children.
Kuwache revealed that being a farming district, parents prefer sending their children to the farm at a time they were supposed to be in class.
“But there has been an improvement in attendance since the start of this project,” he said.
Chairperson for the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) at Mitowi Primary School, Martha Isaac, said the project promises to improve girl child education in the areas it is being implemented.
In his remarks, NICE Public Trust Civic Education Officer responsible for Lilongwe, Dedza and Ntcheu, Daniel Malango, said they hope that through the project, cases of child abuse will be reduced further.
Malango said the programme is targeting the children so that they are made aware of their rights and that they can report to the authorities whenever they feel infringed.
He, however, bemoaned the tendency of some parents and close relatives, who he said were perpetrators of abuse against children and warned that the law will take its course against such perpetrators.
Legal Literacy Programme was launched in 2022 and students from 14 schools in the Traditional Authorities Kaphuka and Kachindamoto have benefited from the project.