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By Godfrey Olukya 15-9-2012

Thousands of children meant to be at school for their third term in Malawi are being held by traditional leaders in initiation camps.

According to the ministry of education official Sadiki Mfumu, the most affected district is called Mangochi .

Sadiki Mfumu said,’ The situation is very bad. First of all, there has been no actual set date that the initiation camps will close and release the children. We hear that some ceremonies may go on up to October which is worrisome.’

He decried the local chiefs who are promoting the initiation ceremonies putting them ahead of formal education.

“We are facing a big problem. We are failing to convince most of the local chiefs to release the children from the camps to resume school. Most of these chiefs are challenging our efforts, claiming that there is no one who can punish them for keeping the children in the camps.’Mfumu said.

The executive director of the Civil Society Coalition on Education, Benedicto Kondowe condemned the perpetrators referring to them as ungrateful.He called on the government to force the children out of the camps so that they go to classrooms.

Kondowe said,’The government should come out to save the situation. This is one of the cases where government needs to demonstrate it’s role of leadership. Chiefs also need to be reminded that they are custodians of government policies and stop this retrogressive violation to education.’

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