District Commissioner for Mangochi, Reverend Moses Chimphepo has expressed concern over the rising number of teenagers migrating to South Africa for a better life at the expense of education.
Chimphepo raised the concern when he officially launched a two-day meeting on Thursday where United Nations (UN) Women engaged parents and local leaders in Mangochi to discuss some of the factors contributing to school dropout rate in the district.
The DC noted that Mangochi continued to be one of the districts with the highest school dropout rate despite various efforts by government and civil society organizations to keep children in school.
He observed that other than child marriages and teen pregnancies, children between the ages of 13 and 18 were trekking to South Africa in large numbers which, he said, ought to be discouraged.
“We would like to appeal to all parents that they should value education for their children more than sending them to South Africa where they are often subjected to harsh living conditions given that they go without any academic credentials,” said Chimphepo.
Chimphepo said at present there are five children from Mangochi who are lost and stranded in South Africa and that government is in the process of tracing them and making efforts to repatriate them.
He stressed that according to the law, anyone below the age of 18 is a child and that they were not supposed to be subjected to marriage or employment of any kind.
One of the parents, Longolongo Alli, from Sinyala Village in Traditional Authority Bananyambi, admitted that parents in the district marry-off their daughters to young men looking for opportunities in South Africa hoping to end their poverty.
Earlier in February this year, Immigration Department Officer In-Charge at Mangochi Mlambe One Centre, Shadreck Chikwezeka told Malawi News Agency (Mana) that since October 2017 the Immigration section had already handled close to 1,000 passport applications as of Monday, February 12.
Chikwezeka said the demand for passports at the centre was growing by the day such that, on average, over 25 applications were being processed daily.
UN Women is implementing a project in the district aimed at influencing attitude and behavior change among parents, local leaders and children and encouraging male involvement in ending all cultural practices that fuel early marriages and school dropouts.