FRANCIS LUNGU, Kasama
EARLY marriages and high poverty levels, especially in rural parts of Zambia, are still perceived to be responsible for hindering children from advancing in education.
Selu community, about 45 kilometres north-west of Kasama district in Northern Province, is one of the areas grappling with the challenges of keeping girls in school.
During a recent community child safeguarding sensitisation meeting for both parents and children in the village, Kasama district child protection committee chairperson Lillian Chileshe said marrying off a girlchild is not beneficial to parents and the child in question.
Ms Chileshe said there are no examples of a child or family that have succeeded in life as a result of early marriages.
She said parents should facilitate for their children’s education because acquiring good education guarantees better life opportunities.
“Early marriages are not good for both the parents and the girl child. No family has become rich because of marrying off their girl child at a tender age,” Ms Chileshe said at a meeting organised by Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) in partnership with Kasama district child protection committee.
Selu community child protection committee secretary Osward Makasa, however, said as much as children desire to be in school, the issue of high poverty levels in their respective homes is a deterrent.
Mr Makasa said the high levels of poverty are making it difficult for children to enjoy their rights to education to pursue their career dreams.
“Most children are willing to advance with education, but poverty in homes has been a challenge. Early marriages are seen as a solution to escaping poverty when this is not the case,” he said.
PSAf child rights governance officer Changwe Chibuye said the organisation is contributing to Government’s efforts in ensuring that communities are sensitised on the importance of safeguarding children’s rights to remain in school.
Mr Chibuye said the child protection programme is premised on three thematic areas: report [parents marrying off underage children], recognise [children’s rights to education] and responsibility [of taking care of children’s education and health].
FRANCIS LUNGU, Kasama