Friday, 29 September 2017

UNICEF hands 33 motorcycles to Malawi

Kasaila (left) shakes hands with Unicef's Kimanzi Muthengi at the ceremony at BNS

Functional literacy and complementary basic education instructors working under the UN Joint Programme on Girls Education (UNJPGE) will have their mobility challenges eased following the handing over of 33 Yamaha motorcycles to Malawi by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) at the Bingu National Stadium (BNS) Thursday September 28, 2017.

Speaking when he received the motorcycles on behalf of his ministry, Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Francis Kasaila thanked UNICEF for the timely intervention, noting that government cannot provide all resources on its own but relies on such partners. Kasaila also urged other development partners to emulate UNICEF’s gesture.
Minister Kasaila trying it out

Kasaila pointed out that the functional literacy and complementary basic education programme targets adolescent girls who seek a second chance at education and is consistent with both medium term goals under the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy II and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) spirit of leaving no one behind.

The donation is meant to “enhance literacy and numeracy of adolescent girls, most of whom drop out of school before they attain literacy”, said Mr. Patrick Chakholoma, who spoke on behalf of UNICEF.

According to Chakholoma, the nine-month-long functional literacy programme, which has modules such as nutrition, health and hygiene, “empowers the adolescents to be useful citizens in the society”.

The complementary basic education programme seeks to enable girls to attain literacy and numeracy over three years after which they can rejoin school in standard 5.

The programme is being implemented in the districts of Dedza, Salima and Mangochi by Nchalo-based nongovernmental organisation Adolescent Girls Literacy Plus (AGLIT+) and has reached over 30,000 adolescent girls, largely teen mothers, with various forms of educational and life skills empowerment.

Over the past two years, UNICEF has also provided three vehicles to the programme implementation districts, three to the ministry headquarters and three that are used by three different implementing agencies and partners.

The functional literacy and complementary basic education programmes have over the years led to significant transformation in the lives of the participating adolescents, some of whom have even gone further to pursue university education.
Ready to go places: The A4AY-branded motorcycles that Unicef has donated to Malawi.
The programme is earmarked for scaling up in the next few years and would reach up to the districts of Chitipa and Likoma, according to Kimanzi Muthengi of UNICEF. 

Youth Minister Kasaila engages Youth Council

Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development minister Mr. Francis Kasaila Thursday 28 September, 2017 met with National Youth Council of Malawi (NYCOM) staff at the Bingu wa Mutharika International Convention Center (BICC) in Lilongwe in the first interaction between the two sides since the Minister was appointed to his current portfolio.

Speaking following presentations from the Youth Council, the Minister observed that the empowerment drive for the youth had not been sustainable so far, which has seen youth receding back to square one even when functional interventions had targeted them.

Kasaila agreed with the plea for more speedy efforts in reviewing the National Youth Council of Malawi Act (1996), lamenting that there were a lot of people that, taking advantage of the aged law, have sought their own benefits other than targeting the youth.

Youth Minister Francis Kasaila (seated, centre) poses with ministry officials and NYCOM staff 

“It would be better to have a few organisations that are focused on their work than having three thousand that only seek to benefit their directors,” he said.

He promised to take up the matter to ensure that the Act is reviewed soon.

Kasaila said he was pleased that the Council had even reflected on and highlighted the working relationship between his Ministry and the Council in which reporting and policy interaction ought to thrive in driving the agenda of the youth and shaping the future of the National Youth Council.

The Minister also hinted that the Board of Directors would be in place soon, saying his Ministry will try its best to get people who are truly committed to the youth cause and are able to do the work they are expected to do other than just looking for tokens. The Youth Council has not had a Board of Directors since November 10 last year when the mandate of the previous board expired.

Kasaila also said there was need for the Council to generate innovative ideas on how to locally generate resources for the programmes it seeks to implement before going to donors, saying if the Council demonstrates leadership in resource mobilisation, the others would see the need to follow.

Noting that most donors are not forthcoming in supporting infrastructure but software, Kasaila said his ministry would explore ways of identifying opportunities for the construction of the Achinyamata Centre, an ambitious multipurpose youth development centre vision eluded by a software-oriented donor and private sector community.

He also noted that most youth organisations that are active are in that state based on some projects and they die out when the funding dries out and constantly shift focus areas depending on where the money is.

The Minister also said there was need to enhance “the human capacity of the Council so that it can effectively monitor and regulate the youth organisations, and I will not hesitate to deregister those that prove not to work for the benefit of the youth.”

Kasaila also said the Council should be able to come to the Ministry and provide proposals on the best ways of effectively targeting the youth both by the Ministry and its sister ministries, commending the Council for taking the initiative to interface with his Ministry.

“Our focus should be on how we can help the youth out there. There would be individuals or organisations that would want to use us for selfish reasons. We may have challenges as a country but those challenges are not meant to make us fight each other but rather motivate us to find solutions,” said Kasaila.

Kasaila’s meeting with the Council came weeks after Presidential Advisor on Youth Affairs Simon Vuwa Kaunda visited the Council on a familiarisation tour.

Earlier, the Council had made presentations highlighting its programmes, strategic direction and approved reform areas under the public service reforms initiative being championed by the government of Malawi. 

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Vuwa visits Youth Council

It was one extremely rare high-profile visit of a government official of such standing in years, and staff were most certainly excited to have someone from the President's circle of advisers demonstrate interest to get fully acquainted with the Council's business. 

All smiles: Mr. Symon Vuwa Kaunda flanked by NYCOM officials as others stand in the background

Recently appointed Presidential Adviser on Youth and Sports Affairs Symon Vuwa Kaunda on Monday September 4, 2017 paid a familiarisation visit to the National Youth Council of Malawi secretariat.

"I saw it fit, having been appointed as Presidential Adviser, to come for courtesy to the National Youth Council since you are the institution that coordinates all youth associations and organisations in the country," said Mr. Vuwa Kaunda as he introduced himself to the keenly listening staff in the Council's board room.

During the visit, Mr. Vuwa Kaunda was briefed by staff on the work that the Council is doing, the spectrum of programming and the challenges being encountered in both programming and operations.

Among other things, positive and negative, the meeting revealed that the Council has been facing a number of challenges relating to the implementation of reforms approved under the Public Sector Reforms agenda that the government is championing. 

The Council's management and staff indicated that there were challenges in the operational end enabling environments that hampered the progress of the reforms agenda, including the absence of key decision-making persons both at the Secretariat and in the Board of Directors, a situation which had also affected resource-mobilisation drive for the Council. 

It was indicated during the meeting, however, that staff at the Council had opted to explore partnership-building as the most plausible way of mobilising technical support under the current circumstances.

Earlier, in welcoming the Presidential Adviser, Finance and Administration Officer Thembeka Chide expressed the collective happiness among staff to be honoured with the visit.

Kaunda's visit was perhaps a needed morale booster, and his remarks hinted on a number of positives to be expected from his office.

"I am hopeful that you shall have your Board of Directors and Executive Director soon," said Vuwa, as he is popularly known, of the two critical structures that have been vacant for almost eleven months now. 

The visit comes following his appointment by State President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika to the said adviser role in the past few weeks. The position has for the past three years been occupied by former Member of Parliament Wictor Songazaudzu Sajeni.

Mr. Vuwa Kaunda twice served as Minister for Youth and Sports during the leadership of departed President Bingu wa Mutharika. His recent appointment is expected to benefit from his experience in youth and sports as he takes on the mammoth yet hugely undermined task of influencing top-level direction in meaningful youth development.