“I never thought I could go back to school again after getting pregnant. I lost focus on my education since I was just staying at home until the Mother Group visited me…” Shamim Maganga narrated part of her story that starts with painting disappointment on the face of a spectator but ends with drawing a smile of hope on hers. As she shared what she went through when she dropped out of school, Shamim admitted regret but also spelled out persistence fueled by the GGE-groomed Mother Group. She is one of the numerous Malawian adolescent girls victimized by negative peer pressure to fall into the jaws of early pregnancies. Having lost her father, Shamim is a 15-year-old girl raised by a single mother together with her five siblings at Sapali village, Group Village Headman Mwalala, Traditional Authority Nazombe in Phalombe district.
Shamim Maganga, readmitted at Nambiti Primary School after early pregnancy
In 2021 when she was in her final term of standard 8 at Nambiti Primary School, Shamim started feeling unfit in the circles of her close friends who were having money for buying snacks during break times. This is a thing which she couldn’t afford because she comes from a poor family. “Whenever I asked my friends to share with me their money, they always told me that they cannot do that, rather I should also find my own boyfriend to give me money.” Shamim explained. According to her, that kind of pressure made her accept a sexual relationship proposal by a boy from her village who was not even a fellow learner at the school.
While as young as 14 years old, Shamim got impregnated by her boyfriend and dropped out of school when she /was just months away from sitting for Primary School Leaving Certificate Examinations. She stopped attending classes and gave up on her dream of becoming a journalist after finishing school, until when the Mother Group intervened. “While I was still pregnant, the Mother Group visited me and told me that it is possible to go back to school because there is Nzotheka – Girls Get Equal…” Shamim explained. The Mother Group counsel revived her focus on education.
“CRECCOM told us during the Girls Get Equal project training that it is possible for a girl to get readmitted after delivery, according to the government policy.” – explained Patricial Matelecheya, who is the Chairperson of the Mother Group.
Following the Mother Group’s visit and counselling, Shamin started attending classes again and wrote her examinations. Although she passed, her grades were not good enough for her to get selected to secondary school. As such, she is now repeating standard 8 having delivered her baby whom her mother babysits when she is at school and when she is studying. According to her, she no longer want to be in any sexual relationship with a boy and she studies hard during and after classes so that she should pass the exams brilliantly this time.
According to the Mother Group, 19 girls who dropped out of school at Nambiti Pramary School have been readmitted after being provided with psychosocial support following the capacity building trainings by CRECCOM under the GGE project. Out of the 19, two girls including Shamim dropped out due to unexpected pregnancies. The rest of the girls dropped out due to other various reasons including early marriages and lack of learning materials attributed to poverty at home. The Mother Group continues to counsel the readmitted girls as part of providing psychosocial support to them in order to sustainably keep the girls in school. CRECCOM in partnership with PLAN International is implementing the Keeping Girls in School component of the NORAD-funded Girls Get Equal (Nzotheka) project in selected 189 schools in Mulanje, Phalombe and Lilongwe districts. The project aims at reducing child early forced marriages and early pregnancies; and contribute to girls’ education attainment.