VIOLET MENGO, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT is to conduct a headcount of girls to ascertain the number of girls that have fallen pregnant in the last six months.
Minister of General Education Dennis Wanchinga says there are unverified reports of many schoolgoing girls being pregnant as a result of their stay at home during the COVID-19 school closure, but a study to that effect has not been carried out.
“We have heard, received calls and also seen stories on social media about our school girls falling pregnant, while others have been reportedly married off during the last six months,” Dr Wanchinga said.
The minister said Government will only be able to know the exact number of girls that are pregnant and the extent of this problem when a headcount is done when schools reopen.
Dr Wanchinga said each school will, therefore, be required to update the children’s register, and once the figures are aggregated, the ministry will then have an idea of the number of girls that are pregnant and also those that have been married off.
“At the moment, we are only depending on what people have been telling us, some of it from social media and our officers in the field,” he said.
“Even those who have been calling us about the problem of girls’ pregnancies have also been hearing from other people.”
The minister said so far, there is nobody who has been to any specific school to do the headcount on pupils.
“As they open schools, we will be able to tell and quantify the extent of this problem,” he said.
And Dr Wachinga has, however, urged the girls that have fallen pregnant not to despair as Government has in place a legal framework that allows them to return to school after having their babies.
Government in 2007 introduced the re-entry policy to allow girls that become pregnant while in school to return after giving birth.
“Being pregnant is not the end of the road, it is, however, not a good situation, but, also, girls should know that we have a window in our legal framework which allows for re-entry of our children who may have fallen pregnant,” Dr Wanchinga.
VIOLET MENGO, Lusaka