By Draxon Maloya
Luke International has intensified it’s efforts in mitigating menstrual cycle related girl-child school dropout and absenteeism.
The organisation has constructed and renovated girls changing rooms at Kakombwe Primary School in Mzimba North and Chakoma Primary School Nkhata Bay District respectively.
Speaking on Thursday when handing over Kakombwe girls change room facilities, Luke International’s Community Development Deputy Manager, Tina Thole Dzama said most girls in the rural areas are either dropping out of school or absconding classes during their menstrual cycle.
Dzama said her organisation is currently implementing Menstral Hyegine Management Program for girls to remain in school and become productive citizens in the future.
“Having worked with 11 schools in Mzuzu City it was established through a number of baseline surveys that girls in rural set-up could not afford buying sanitary pads hence sharing with them knowledge and skills in production of reusable pads.
“Girls were walking long distances going back home to change sanitary pads when menstruating so our aim is to reach out to as many girls to remain in school mainly those in the rural set-up they need our support,” Dzama said.
In his remarks, representative of the Primary Education Advisor for Echilumbeni Zone, Kondwani Tembo said the girl-child dropout rate in the area is very worrisome hitting as high as 30 percent.
“The dropout rate for girls is high and worrisome because 30 percent of them are dropping out from school as a result of long distances they walk to school, so when going through menstral cycle the just absent themselves or sometimes dropout from school all together,” said Tembo.
Group Village Headman (GVH) Chikorongo said many girls are getting married even before attaining the age of 17 years just because many households are looking for riches through bride price.
Among others Luke International helps youths and adolescents better access reproductive health services.
The organization has three departments namely; Community Development, Health Information Systems and Research with focus on Menstrual hygiene management, economic empowerment, clean water, education, vocational support and youth empowerment.
Luke International started implementing Menstrual Hyegine Management Program in 2017 with funding from Bjorgaas -Tawian Foundation.