No less than 400 school girls have dropped out of exam classes in Manicaland province, Zimbabwe due to marriage and pregnancy fueled by the Covid-19 lockdown.
Yet, only five boys dropped out of school for marriage reasons in the province.
Edward Shumba, Provincial education director remarked that schools in the province ought to augment guidance and counselling while encouraging parents to give their children a second chance.
“We all want to enhance guidance and counselling where these things are happening,” he told the media.
“And for the parent, if the child has become pregnant, let those deliver, give them a second chance.
“The Ministry allows us to go for the second chance because, right, they could have made a mistake but who does not make a mistake. We all make mistakes and yes, we have learnt from our mistakes.
“Others learn from other people’s mistakes.”
Munyaradzi Rubaya, the provincial development officer, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, stated that schools have to accommodate the girls to ensure their continued learning.
Rubaya said there was a need to make the school environment to address the needs of the returning girls.
“Since the education policy was amended to allow pregnant girls to continue attending schools, we are encouraging education institutions especially secondary schools to accommodate these girls and create a conducive environment for their continued learning, because in most cases, these girls are stigmatised,” he explained.
According to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, in 2018, 12.5% of 57,500 school dropouts were due to pregnancy or marriage reasons nationwide.
In 2019, 7000 girls dropped out of school across the country because of pregnancy.
Out of these dropouts, 367 were from primary schools and 6,419 were from secondary schools.
In August, the parliament passed a legal amendment making the expulsion of pregnant students a criminal offense.