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“Girl child, Stay in School!”

“To educate a girl is to educate a nation. However, many girls in our district do not complete school because of poverty, early marriages, teenage pregnancies and poor school infrastructure.”

These words, which were said by one of the representatives of the local primary schools in Namacurra district, summarized the concerns of all present during the launch of the Nikhalamo – “Girl child, Stay in School” project, held on the 3rd of October 2014 at the Cultural Center (Casa da Cultura) of Namacurra, Zambézia province in Mocambique.

Nikhalamo is a word in the local language (Chuabo) and means, freely translated, “Girl Child, Stay in School”. The objective of the 4 year (2014-2018) Nikhalamo project is to ensure that vulnerable girls in Namacurra district complete upper primary school and transit to lower secondary schooling (6th and 7th grades).

To reach its objective, the project will work in close collaboration with the district and local education authorities to promote girls’ education within the local communities and to address various issues that keep girls out of school, including by establishing community pre?schools and by offering community block grants to ensure that even the poorest families have the means to educate their girls.

The project will also seek to improve the learning environment at the local schools by enhancing their water and sanitation conditions and by sensitizing teachers, students, and school council and community members about gender issues, including gender roles, violence against women and girls, sexual abuse and bullying, thereby making schools safer, healthier and more child-friendly.

Finally, the project will also increase the students’ academic performance and life skills by promoting a strong reading culture, both in schools and at home, and through a special mentorship support program. The specially trained Girls Education Mentors will carry out training sessions and community?based activities addressing various issues related to the wellbeing of girls, including issues related to physical and sexual health, hygiene, and social skills, thus strengthening the self-awareness and self-esteem of the young girls.

The Nikhalamo project will reach altogether 3,250 vulnerable girls and work directly with 18 selected primary schools and 2 local secondary schools in the district of Namacurra.

Various government authorities, school headmasters, teachers, students, members of the school councils, traditional leaders, and the 15 specially trained Girl Education Promoters were present at the project launch.