According to UNFPA, globally, one in every five girls is married, or in a union, before reaching the age of 18 years. In developing countries, Zimbabwe included, more than 32% of girls are married before the age of 18 and 12% are married before the age of 15.
In Zimbabwe, it’s even worse as approximately one in three girls is married before the age of 18 years.
In Zimbabwe, 20% of women aged between 15-19 had a child or were currently pregnant in Q4 2015.
It’s no secret that adolescent pregnancy severely curtails girls and young women’s opportunities, and hinders their ability to reach their full potential.
It is against this background that Charlene Muza started Charlatan school.
The school aims towards giving a second chance at education for early married women or girls who experienced child marriages and could not continue with their formal education.
In an interview with Zim Trending, Charlene Muza said that that the school started in Dec 2018 and its aim is to educate & empower young mothers.
Charlatan is an exclusive block tech school for young married women between the ages of 16-24 which operates in Vainona and has 2-week conventional learning and 2 weeks non-conventional learning every month.
It also offers non-formal education which is entrepreneurship and financial literacy with Old Mutual.
Adolescent pregnancies are a global problem but occur most often in poorer and marginalised communities. The school thus caters for young women from these communities.
The School started in Dec 2018 after winning Unicef generation unlimited 2018 competition. I started because my mother was an adolescent mother as well as the experiences of my cousin sister.
The aim is to educate, empower and create employment for and with these young mothers.
The school doesn’t only give academic education but is also empowering young ladies to financially improve themselves by starting their own businesses.
Charlene went on to say:
We have managed to Give 69 early married women formal access to Education in Epworth and Kadoma. We have also given start up funding to 6 ladies; 3 in Kadoma 3, and 3 in Epworth.
We have also trained two women in maggot rearing, one in Kadoma & one in Harare.
We have also trained15 women in wild seed harvesting and they are paid per kg in Kadoma. On top of that, we have launched a safe house that is currently accomodating 4 ladies and 4 children, two of the ladies are pregnant.
On Child marriages: I believe the context has changed and it’s time the global community recognize that. A long time ago girls would be married off by their parents as a way to survive.
But as poverty continuously bedevils Africa, more young girls are marrying off themselves inorder to survive. So the thought is nolonger what we do about advocacy.
We have done too much of that already but how do we reshape the life of the young mother’s and their children that has been lost so that we do not pursue development while living a part of our generation behind
My advise to young girls to out there who have been victims of child marriages is there is life ahead. You haven’t lost all you just found one more reason to live and pursue your dreams with more determination than before.
Charlene also said that have been facing some challenges that have been hindering their progress as a school. They need textbooks for the new curriculum for form 3 and 4, in the following subjects, Commerce, English, Heritage studies, Maths and combined science.
Desks and chairs are also needed for the Epworth class to learn properly.
The safe house needs mattresses, blankets and chairs for the ladies. The school would welcome any assistance they can get in this regard since they have no funding.
The young women have welcomed this second chance with open arms. Some say it has helped them take care of their children and it has restored their self-confidence which had been shattered.
Charlene rounded up by saying
Girls must be able to make their own decisions about their bodies and futures and have access to appropriate healthcare services and education.
For more information and assistance please contact
See some pictures from the school below. Click to enlarge the images.
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