By BRIAN HATYOKA –
LIVINGSTONE Mayor Eugene Mapuwo has called for concerted efforts to promote girls’ education through their regular attendance in classes.
Mr Mapuwo said there were many factors, domestic and physiological, which negatively affected girls’ consistent attendance in classes.
The mayor said there was need to promote girls’ education through attendance apart from enrolment and completion.
Mr Mapuwo was speaking in Livingstone at St Marys Secondary School on Tuesday when he officially opened SOS Children’s Villages Livingstone incinerators for burning sanitary towels for girls, which were constructed within the premises of the three secondary schools.
The K93,000-worth incinerators, which are aimed at increasing access to menstrual management services for girls and women, were constructed at St Marys Secondary School, Libuyu Secondary School and David Livingstone Secondary School.
SOS Children’s Villages in Livingstone also distributed sanitary towels, disposal bins and hand-washing basins for girls to the three schools.
Mr Mapuwo said that research had shown that the onset of puberty, especially in many developing countries, was resulting in significant changes in school participation for girls.
“The onset of menstruation, which is the most dramatic sign of a girl’s puberty, affects girls’ socialisation with family and community and may have a significant impact on their education.
“We all know and agree that girls’ education needs to be promoted through regular attendance beyond enrolment and completion,” Mr Mapuwo said.
He said there was need to ensure that girls and women had sufficient support during menstruation in schools, homes, workplaces, correctional facilities and hospitals, among other places.
Mr Mapuwo said the central Government and the local authority were happy with the efforts of SOS Children’s Villages to address many challenges affecting girls and women in the country.
Livingstone District education board secretary (DEBS)’s representative Christabel Mainga said the support rendered to the three schools would go a long way to help girls attain the needed education.
Ms Mainga hoped that there would be a reduction in absenteeism among girls, which was a common trend when they had menstruation in a month.
“Further, hygiene levels in these schools will be improved because of this support and other areas where SOS Children’s Villages has intervened like the distribution of sanitary towel disposal bins and hand washing basins for girls,” Ms Mainga said.
“I urge the teachers, pupils and the community at the three schools to take utmost care of these facilities,” she said.
SOS Children’s Villages Southern Region programme manager Lindy Kasamala said her organisation was supporting more than 2,000 boys and girls in Livingstone through various child development programmes.
Ms Kasamala expressed hope that more partners would come on board to support such efforts.
Head teachers and head girls from the three secondary schools commended SOS Children’s Villages for the support.