Empowering Young Voices Mchinji District Launches First Child Parliament

On the 27th of May 2024, Mchinji district marked a historic moment with the launch of its first-ever Child Parliament session, a collaborative effort between the Girls Activist Youths Organization (GAYO) and World Vision. This innovative platform is designed to amplify children’s voices, allowing them to discuss prevalent issues affecting their lives meaningfully and structured.

A New Dawn for Child Advocacy

The Child Parliament provides an empowering space where children can articulate their concerns and propose solutions. The inaugural session saw enthusiastic participation from 52 children from Traditional Authorities Mavwere and Kapondo. These young parliamentarians could share their first resolutions with the Mchinji district council and other partners, marking a significant step towards child-inclusive policy-making.

Voices of the Future

Enoch, a 14-year-old Grade 7 learner and the speaker of this child parliament, expressed how donning the regalia of a speaker fills him with pride and aspiration. “Being addressed as the speaker gives me a sense of pride. I believe if I work harder, I should be able to get there,” Enoch said, highlighting how this role motivates him to dream bigger.

Addressing Critical Issues

During the session, critical issues such as the alarming rate of school non-attendance were highlighted. As of 2022, 23% of children in Mchinji do not attend school, primarily due to child marriages and child labor. These issues were a focal point of discussion, underscoring the urgent need for action.

Richard Batch, Executive Director of GAYO, pointed out the challenges in achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, which aims to ensure equitable quality education. He emphasized the responsibility of both the government and parents in addressing these issues.

Budgetary Challenges

Batch also highlighted the concerning budgetary shortfalls in the education sector. According to a budget analysis conducted by GAYO, FAWEMA, CSEC, and OXFAM, by February 2024, the government had only remitted 55% of the annual budget allocation, withholding 45%. This shortfall significantly compromises the quality of education and underscores the need for more consistent and adequate funding.

A Call to Action

World Vision District Officer for Mchinji, Mereena John, called for all education stakeholders to revisit their roles and commitments. “It is time for all education players to go back to the drawing board to understand their roles and rise to the occasion,” she said, urging a collective effort to improve the education landscape.

Moving Forward

The launch of the Child Parliament in Mchinji is a testament to the power of youth engagement and the importance of providing platforms for young voices. As these child parliamentarians continue to discuss and address issues affecting their peers, they not only advocate for themselves but also pave the way for a brighter future for all children in the district.

GAYO remains committed to supporting these young leaders and ensuring that their voices continue to be heard, driving meaningful change in their communities. Together with partners like World Vision, we strive to create an environment where every child has the opportunity to receive a quality education and realize their full potential.

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