By Solister Mogha
The rolling out of social cash transfer program in Blantyre is billed to increase the number of children attaining both secondary and primary school education.
This is due to the education bonus attached to the program which is expected to ease pressure on parents in their quest to support their children to continue with education.
Eneti Custon of Reuben Funsani Village in Traditional Authority Somba in Blantyre, said the K28, 200 cash she received from the program was enough to support her two children in their secondary education.
“I normally used to do piece works to find tuition fees for my children. This was a big challenge because in instances where I couldn’t find piece work, my children were sent back from school.
“Honestly, lack of school fees affected their performance in class. Today, I thank government for the social cash transfer program which will allow my children get education, just like any other child and have a brighter future,” Custon said.
Apart from helping ultra-poor households with a monthly income which is mainly dependent on the number of members in that particular family, the program also has a bonus of K800 for primary school going learners and K1, 500 for those in secondary school.
Emily Gerson, 68, from the same village hailed government for the program, saying, she too, would be able to support her Form three grandchild at Lunzu Secondary School.
Gerson said although she is too old to work, she was forced to do piece works, and sometimes molded bricks to ensure the child went to school.
“The mother of the child is mentally challenged and I am the only one taking care of her. I also take care of all the education needs of the grandchild. It was a hustle, but I thank government that, through the programme, the pressure has been lessened and I am confident that my grandchild will finish her studies without any problem,” she said.
Gerson added: “I have received K28, 000, although it is not enough comparing to the required K50, 000 tuition fee. However, I will be able to cover the gap knowing that there is a start-up.”
In his remarks, Village Headman Reuben Funsani said the programme provides an opportunity to many families to send their children to school, apart from buying basic household necessities.
He cited lack of education support as the major factor contributing to increase in school drop outs, saying: “I am sure that in a few years to come, I will have an educated community. My people hardly sent their children to school due to lack of fees. However, that is a thing of the past now that we have the program in place.”
Social Cash Transfer Program Coordinator for Blantyre District, Emmanuel Gervazio said the program is primarily established to support poor families with education support.
He further said government realized the many challenges that ultra-poor families are face which include lack of food and education support for their children, hence the introduction of the program.
According to Gervazio, a total of 5,237 beneficiaries would benefit from the program and about K125 million would be disbursed in cash transfer delivery in the district.
This is the first time that Blantyre District Council is implementing the social cash transfer program since its inception in 2006. Beneficiaries started to receive the money August. Mana