Government gives pregnant school girls another shot at education

Laurel Murangaridzirayi,[email protected]

Government policy that enables pregnant girls to return to school has paid off for a Nhlambabaloyi girl who defiedthe odds and passed 6 O-level subjects.

Education was at a standstill for the girl, who cannot be named for ethical reasons, when she discovered she was pregnant.

However, she sailed through, thanks to the policy, and got the much-needed results.

Players in the education sector convened for an Adolescent Mothers Education Initiative Project-Validation workshop for Matabeleland North aimed at contributing to ensuring that all pregnant girls and adolescent mothers have access to continue and complete a free safe and inclusive education.

Mrs Claudette Ndiweni

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education partnered with ECOZI and World Vision in the cause to assist pregnant girls and adolescent mothers in driving them to go back to school.

Speaking at the event held at a local hotel in Bulawayo, Ms Claudette Ndiweni from Nhlambabaloyi Secondary School in Ntabazinduna said a girl who was pregnant during her ordinary exams is a success story that the school celebrates in relation to the programme.

“Indeed we have had success stories at our school. I remember last year we had an expectant girl during the exam period. She struggled to write exams but she managed to get 6 O levels in her state which left many people in shock,” she said.

She recalled one exam when the girl was late and she had to ask the invigilators to wait a bit in order for her to be around for the exams.

“I know there was one examination last year when we had to wait for her, I had seen she had not come and I had to talk to invigilators to wait before they start issuing the examination papers. I then called her grandmother who said she had left at 8am and I ordered people to wait for her. We do have success stories in our community for the adolescent pregnancies and mothers,” said Ms Ndiweni.

Sibusisiwe Masuku

Ms Ndiweni said the school was hit hard by school dropouts after the Covid-19 era as some girls were pregnant and some leaving for marriages and everything was in a bad state.

“The school was abruptly affected by Covid-19 as most girls did not come back to school because of pregnancies, abuse of illicit drugs, and marriages that they had engaged in,” she said.

According to the Zimbabwe National Statistic Agency (ZIMSTAT), in the Zimbabwean context, 14 600 girls in primary and secondary schools are out of school due to early marriages and pregnancies in 2021.

Another girl from Sivomo Secondary School in Nkayi faced a similar fate that turned out to be a nightmare when she was 14 years old.

“I became pregnant at the age of 14 and I dropped out of school during that time. Being pregnant at a young age is a disadvantage because at school some learners laughed at me and started calling me offensive names, some accepted it but some did not,” she said.

The teenager said the feeling that her son at times doesn’t have food stresses her a lot which constantly affects her schooling.

“At times at school I always think about her because he won’t be having enough food, which makes it hard for me to concentrate at school,” she said.

The Provincial Education Director for Mat North, Mr Jabulani Mpofu, said the ministry was not leaving anyone or any place behind as stated by President Mnangagwa.

“We have seen our different stakeholders assist us in various aspects of education and in this case working with World Vision on the cause. Our thrust in education is to see to it that no one is left behind or no school is left behind,” he said.

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