Gender Gender

Education a key ‘equaliser’

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Children’s Corner with PANIC CHILUFYA
IN ANY society, education is a powerful ‘equaliser’ that opens doors and helps to break the cycle of poverty especially for girls who are often most vulnerable.
It empowers people and strengthens nations as well as promotes economic growth, national productivity and innovation, and values of democracy and social cohesion.
It is sad to learn that more than 5,000 girls in Chipata district alone got pregnant in the third quarter of 2018; that is from July to September. Speaking during a two days Chipata District Adolescent Health Technical working group, District Commissioner Kalunga Zulu disclosed that the pregnancies were recorded from girls below the age of twenty. The number included some girls who were in school while others were not.
The importance of girl child education can never be over-emphasised for various reasons such as reducing fertility rates. Women with formal education are much more likely to use reliable family planning methods, delay marriage and childbearing, and have fewer and healthier babies than women with no formal education. It is estimated that one year of female schooling reduces fertility by 10 percent. The effect is particularly pronounced for secondary schooling.
Through education, infant and child mortality rates are lowered. Women with some formal education are more likely to seek medical care, ensure their children are immunised, are better informed about their children’s nutritional requirements, and adopt improved sanitation practices. As a result, their infants and children have higher survival rates and tend to be healthier and better nourished.
Women with some level of education tend to have better knowledge about health care practices are less likely to become pregnant at a very young age. They also tend to have fewer, better-spaced pregnancies because they are able to seek pre- and post-natal care in good time. It is estimated that an additional year of schooling for 1,000 women helps prevent two maternal deaths.
It has been proven that when a mother attains a certain level of education, she is more likely to send her children to school. In most countries each additional year of formal education completed by a mother translates into her children remaining in school for an additional one-third to one-half year.
Education greatly benefits personal health especially for girls who are most vulnerable. When girls are empowered with education, it may be the single most effective preventive weapon against HIV/AIDS and any other diseases.
Education helps to increase women’s participation in decision-making and leadership positions. It has been established that countries with smaller education gap between boys and girls tend to enjoy greater democracy. Democratic political institutions (such as power-sharing and clean elections) are more likely to exist in countries with higher literacy rates and education levels.
It is for the above reasons that the Chipata scenario should be adequately and decisively addressed because it is likely that the trend is being replicated throughout the country especially in rural areas. At the rate and high numbers at which teenage girls are getting pregnant, it will be virtually impossible for Zambia to meet Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030.
SDGs, otherwise known as Global Goals, that were launched in 2016 are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
Remember, children are our future, until next week, take care.
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