Diverse Needs - Equal Opportunities: Supporting the Retention of Vulnerable Girls in Schools in Mangoochi District, Malawi

Author(s): Mzati-Kidney Mbeko
Final project
Year of publication:
Gender and Education
Number of pages:


Despite 20 years of free primary education in Malawi, many vulnerable girls are either out of school or on the brink of dropping out. The problem is rooted in misogynistic patriarchal attitudes which permeate even the education system; gender-blind education policies abound to bear witness. Imbued in positive discrimination, the current proposal embarks on an initiative to retain 250 vulnerable girls in 5 primary schools in Mangochi District in Malawi. With a total budget of €50.835,00 the project adopts cost effective Open Distance and Flexible Learning (ODFL) strategies and resources such as self-study guides, peer group learning, a buddy system, and ‘school-in-a-bag’ in a bid to make formal schooling inclusive and friendly to vulnerable girls. The proposed intervention model encourages collaboration of all relevant stakeholders at school and community levels to establish “circles of support” around vulnerable girls on the brink of dropping out of school. These “circles of support” are meant to enhance the school and community’s capacity to identify, monitor and offer emotional support to vulnerable girls (Jere, 2011). Grounded in the critical notions of Amartya Sen’s capability approach, this intervention is likely to result is in increased appreciation of gender equality and equity in the schools and in turn will increase access to schooling among vulnerable girls. Successful implementation of this project is crucial in expanding the choices vulnerable girls in Malawi will make in their lives.