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How Support Interventions Brought Marita Back to School

In many rural schools, absenteeism among students often stems from a lack of essential scholastic materials, such as notebooks, pens, and uniforms. This article tells the story of Marita Major, a standard 6 student from Kunduma, Traditional Authority (TA) Mkhumba in Mulanje, who faced significant barriers to her education due to these challenges.

Marita Major dropped out of Kambenje Primary School in 2023 while in standard 6. She could not afford basic needs like notebooks, soap, and lotion, which are crucial for her daily school activities. Living with her grandparents, who struggled to meet the family's basic needs, Marita felt compelled to leave school to ease their financial burden.

Marita recounted, "I dropped out of school because of lacking notebooks, soap, and lotion. I stay with my grandparents, who cannot afford to buy these items. I thought dropping out would lessen their burden."

The Girls Get Equal (GGE) project, funded by Norad through Plan International, played a pivotal role in addressing these challenges. The headteacher, Mr. Willy Malasa Banda, collaborated with the school's mother group, who had received training on psychosocial support through the GGE project. This training enabled them to identify and support students facing difficulties.

Mr. Banda shared, "With the mother group around the school, I worked together with them and the teachers to notice students who are absent. Marita was one of them. The mother group, using their training from the GGE project, visited Marita's home and discovered her absence was due to a lack of basic needs like soap, lotion, and exercise books."

Moved by Marita's situation, Mr. Banda took action. "I gave Marita MK2000 to buy soap, lotion, and exercise books. Now, Marita is back in school and attending her classes daily," he said.

Marita expressed her gratitude, "After receiving the help, I was able to return to school. The headteacher and mother group showed me that they care about my education."

Mr. Banda encouraged Marita, saying, "I always tell Marita to keep working hard in her education and to pursue her dreams regardless of her current situation. Not everyone who made it in life came from well-off families; some come from even more challenging backgrounds than hers."

Marita aspires to become a medical doctor at Mulanje District Hospital.



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