EARLY and forced marriages especially in rural areas have impacted negatively on the advancement of the girl child education. Kitwe district agricultural co-ordinator Raphael Muyaule said according to the current statistics, about 65 percent of the girls did not have education; 58 percent had primary education while others were married off by the age of 18 as compared to the 17 percent with secondary education. Dr Muyaule said the statistics spelt a blink future for young girls who continue to be forced and trapped in the cycle of poverty which made them vulnerable to various forms of abuse by their family members. He said it was therefore important that girls should be empowered with education at all levels to mitigate issues of early or forced child marriages. Dr Muyaule said once a girl child was educated then the nation would have a lot of educated citizens. He said when girls were empowered with education they could contribute massively to the economic growth of the country when they became adults. He said education was key to success and girls should keep away from illicit activities such as teenage pregnancies, early or forced marriage issues, alcohol and drug abuse because they could ruin their lives. Dr Muyaule said sexual reproductive education was important to the girl child so that they refrained from engaging in sexual activities at an early age. He said Government was determined to ensure that girls were educated especially in rural areas, hence the building of primary and secondary schools countrywide. Dr Muyaule appealed to organizations and other stakeholders dealing in the welfare of the girl child to encourage and sensitise their parents or guardians about the importance of education. “Government is committed to fight the violence, physical or mental abuse and other problems girls are faced with,” said Dr Muyaule. Dr Muyaule said the Government would continue to accelerate programmes and policies aimed at championing and promoting the rights of the girl child.