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First Lady inspires needy students

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First Lady Madam Monica Chakwera has implored needy students to work hard in school to achieve their educational goals despite facing challenging financial situations.

Chakwera said this at Mzuzu Government Secondary School on Thursday, during an interactive session with student beneficiaries under her Shaping Our Future Foundation (SOFF) bursary scheme.

The First Lady shared with the students her personal background and how she nearly dropped out of school.  

“My parents could not afford to pay school fees for me up to Form 4. They managed to pay school fees for my Form 1 and Form 2, however, they got into huge debts and I was going to drop out of secondary school.

“In those days, with a Junior Certificate of Education [JCE] you could still go for nursing or teaching but I didn’t want to end at Form 2 because I had capacity to go on. By God’s grace, I was bailed out by Save the Children which paid for my Form 3 and Form 4,” she said.

Madame Monica Chakwera speaks during her visit to Mzuzu Government Secondary School-pic by Lisa Kadango Malango

Chakwera said it is such a background that inspired her to introduce scholarship schemes through SOFF to ensure that needy boys and girls are accessing and completing secondary school education.

Deputy Minister of Education, Nancy Mdooko hailed Chakwera for the bursaries, noting that one of the most common factors barring some students from attaining secondary school education is financial constraints.

Mdooko said government through the Ministry of Education, is increasing bursaries to needy students in secondary schools.

“The number of bursary beneficiaries increased from 30,138 in 2019 to 42,043 in 2023, indicating an increase of 39.5 percent and this figure surpasses the national education sector investment plan [NESP] 2025 target of 40,000,” Mdooko said.

She said although the number of student beneficiaries has increased over the years, there are 19, 105 needy students in various secondary schools requiring bursary support. 

Head teacher for Mzuzu Government Secondary School, George Chunga hailed  the first lady for donating 20 desktop computers which he said will facilitate effective delivery of computer studies at the school. 

One of SOFF bursary beneficiaries, Uchindami Nyirenda thanked Madam Chakwera for helping her remain in school, saying she could have dropped out because she comes from a poor family.

Apart from the desktop computers, the first lady  also donated 150 chairs, 59 desks and 50 bags of maize.

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