By Innocent Chunga
Chief Chilambula of Traditional Authority Kambalame in Salima district is a graduate of one of the well-known adult literacy schools in the district.
The chief is now able to count, read and write. She is also able to understand government development plans for Salima district council, such plans are mostly shared and discussed during full council meetings.
Group Village Head Tambala aged 70 of Nkhotakota district in the area of Traditional Authority Malengachanzi said through the program she is able to handle with high integrity, civil cases, involving her people as the program has sharpened her thinking capacity.
“At first a lot of things were very difficult for me but now it is easy to understand most livelihood issues because of adult literacy school. I am now able to understand even some legal procedures when hearing civil cases as a Group Village Head. The program is important because you know how to read and write and also easily observe road traffic rules”, said Tambala
Senior Chief Mwansambo of Nkhotakota district said unlike in the past a number of chiefs under his jurisdiction are now able to easily understanding of what he communicates to them from district full council meetings.
Ministry of Gender and Social Welfare Spokesperson, Pauline Kaude, said it is encouraging that adult literacy programs are bearing fruits in sectors that include local government structures adding that the ministry would like to introduce Standard 5 to 8 curriculum in the program so that those who complete Standard 8 can start form 1.
“We are also promoting post literacy activities such as tailoring and others, so that those who graduate from the program can start developing their skills to help the nation”, said Kaude
Good governance commentator, George Phiri, agrees that high illiteracy rate is one of major challenges in the county’s decentralization system.
“If traditional leaders do not know how to read and write it becomes a challenge for them to understand governments’ plans and policies because we have that program of decentralization of which chiefs are key people to deliver development. Going to such schools will help them to understand government policies and how government delivers development activities in areas across the country”, said Phiri.
Nkhotakota District Council Spokesperson, Stanly Nkhondoyachepa, has since commended involvement of chiefs in the program saying this has assisted improving operations at the council.
“It has indeed helped them to understand documents and this is making it easy for them to follow deliberations that are taking place in full council meetings and other meetings that are happening at community level. They are now able to read own their own and communicate through letters,” Said Nkhondoyachepa.
It is not strange to see some sections of the society undermining some of the local leaders when they are unable to count, read and write.
This in turn, prevents such chiefs from actively participating in decision making as well as implementation of crucial development projects.