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Lilongwe – The UN Foundation team under the Girls Up Programme has handed over 550 bicycles through UNFPA to JPAG beneficiaries, mostly adolescent girls in Chikhwawa and Mangochi districts. The official handover event took place at Mdinde Community Day Secondary School, in Traditional Authority Katuli in Mangochi district Speaking during the event, Mellisa Hillebrener, Director of Girl Up at UN Foundation said she is happy that the problem that they found out during their earlier visit in 2013 has now been addressed. "When we came here in 2013, we were told that girls walk long distances to school and most of them were reporting late for classes and as they walk to school they also faced some challenges that facilitated absenteeism and high drop outs. We therefore, believe that this kind support through the bicycles will motivate more girls to remain in school", she said.

Violet Kakyomya, UNFPA Representative on behalf of Unicef and WHO as other UN agencies in this project said JPAG has demonstrated success in increasing girls' enrolment in school in both Chikhwawa and Mangochi. She further explained that JPAG was conceptualised with focus on girls and was glad to say that JPAG 2 will comprehensively look at the needs of boys as well because they are facilitators and supporters to girls' education. "I am glad to announce that JPAG 2 will be developed by focussing on both boys and girls because we know that boys are also promoters of girls' education. We will consult you boys enthusiastically", she said.

Speaking earlier, the district education manager for Mangochi district commended UN Foundation through UN for the support provided towards promoting girls education in Mangochi. "Before JPAG there were only 17 girls enrolled in this school but as we speak now, we have 83 girls with only three drop outs" he said.

JPAG has been implemented since 2010 in the districts of Chikhwawa and Mangochi. The initial funding for the project was from the UN Foundation and later carried on with financial support from the Norwegian Embassy in Malawi. The first phase of the project ends in December 2015 and UNFPA is currently working with other UN Agencies on the proposal to the Norwegian Embassy for JPAG 2.