EU-ISEM project helping girls to complete secondary education

EU-ISEM project helping girls to complete secondary education

ISEM is creating a safe learning environment for female and other vulnerable students in secondary schools

This project has adopted mutually reinforcing strategies at levels of the learners themselves, schools and community support structures at district and national level. We believe that all these efforts will increase the number of girls enrolling and completing secondary school. Through the provision of bursaries, this project will contribute to high retention and completion rate among girls.

Lingalireni Mihowa, Deputy Country Director-OXFAM Malawi


Malawi adult literacy rate is around 60% and fewer than 40% of females and 60% of males aged 25+ years have had any secondary education. Appallingly, females make up 39% of all students at tertiary level mostly due to limited boarding facilities and fewer female students gaining the required grades. The proportion of girls and boys in secondary school is at 46% to 54%, respectively. There are several factors behind high school drop-out rates: early marriages perpetrated by deep rooted social-cultural beliefs have been known to negatively influence girls’ enrolment and survival in school.


  • To contribute towards increased enrolment, retention and completion rates at secondary school particularly for female and vulnerable students (OVs).


  • Reduced negative socio-cultural norms affecting secondary completion rates among female and other vulnerable students.
  • Improved and safe learning environment for female and other vulnerable students in secondary school.
  • Improved access to secondary education support mechanisms for female and other vulnerable students.


  • 2 400 female and other vulnerable students to directly benefit from the project.
  • 36 000 households to benefit from socio-economic interventions undertaken by the project.
  • 1 200 females to have improved knowledge in life skills, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and menstrual hygiene management.
  • Project to lead to 90% completion rates for targeted females/OVs and 90% increase in awareness on school Gender Based Violence and the reporting mechanisms.


It feels good to be back in school

"I dropped out of school in 2015 due to pregnancy. After two years, I was traced by a group of women who encouraged me to go back to school and introduced me to the ISEM Project. I am happy to be back to school and being supported with a bursury by this project. I can now see a bright future ahead of me. I am confident that I will be able to support my siblings and even my child in school. I encourage my friends who dropped out of school because of pregnancies and early marriages to seek opportunities of going back to school. Early pregnancies do not pay. I have been through it and I know what I am talking about. Nothing feels better for me like being back in school" Mtiyesanji-Kasungu-Malawi