His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of Malawi, and Robert Scott U.S. Ambassador to Malawi, broke ground at Kawale Community Day Secondary School (CDSS) in Lilongwe on the Secondary Education Expansion for Development (SEED) Program. This U.S. Government initiative is a new $90 million partnership between the Government of Malawi (GOM) and the U.S. Government (USG) to increase access to secondary schools across the country and reduce HIV risk in Malawi. Through SEED, the USG will construct 96 new classrooms in 30 existing overcrowded urban secondary schools in Lilongwe, Blantyre, Zomba, and Mzuzu, and up to 200 new Community Day Secondary Schools in more rural areas in every district in Malawi. In the process, the SEED program will increase secondary school access nationwide by up to 25 percent.
The SEED program comes at a time when access to secondary school is limited in Malawi. Many students are not selected to enter secondary school due to limited space. Those selected must often travel more than 20 km every day to attend school. By bringing secondary schools closer to where girls and boys live through the SEED program, the GOM and USG hope to alleviate key barriers that hinder students, particularly adolescent girls and young women, from accessing and completing secondary school, helping to prevent HIV.
According to the U.S. Ambassador, Robert Scott, “Investing in young people is a priority because educated youth, especially girls, enjoy greater economic prosperity, raise healthier children, and invest in their families and communities.” Ambassador Scott also emphasized, “There is growing evidence that keeping girls in school can reduce HIV infection by delaying sexual debut, preventing child marriage and early pregnancy, as well as increasing economic self-sufficiency. Therefore, the U.S. Government is committed to working with the Government of Malawi to bring secondary schools closer to where girls and boys live, especially those who come from rural communities.”
Honorable Susuwele Banda, Minister of Education, Science and Technology, expressed his appreciation to the U.S. Government for its support of the timely SEED program and committed the Ministry of Education to “maintaining the new school structures as well as providing the necessary qualified secondary school teachers.” The Minister also stated that “the Ministry will also mitigate the effects of HIV/AIDS through the National Curriculum Policy, which will inform the development of comprehensive sexuality education for students in primary and secondary school.”
In his remarks, H.E. President Mutharika said, “The Government of Malawi is not only committed to educating Malawi’s youth, but also to ensuring their health, including HIV prevention, and well-being. Therefore, we will also work with health centers located near secondary schools to provide age-appropriate youth friendly health services. Furthermore, those health centers will report and work to eliminate any stigma related to youth seeking services such as HIV prevention, family planning, sexually transmitted infection prevention and treatment, and gender-based violence treatment. Without educated and healthy young people, Malawi will not prosper.”