Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
SEVEN under-age girls dropped out from Selukwe Chrome Secondary School in Shurugwi last year after falling pregnant with some of them being forced into early marriages.
This was revealed last week by the school’s headmaster Mr Edmore Matatara during a ceremony that saw the school unveiling a state-of-the-art laboratory and a multipurpose sports court built by Unki Mine. the mine also donated a bus to Impali Primary School.
He said of the seven under-age schoolgirls, four were doing Form 1, two in Form 2, and one was doing Form 3.
“The year 2019 was good for us in terms of academic success as we had 64 percent pass rate in Ordinary Level results and we had six Advanced level students getting 15 Points and above. We also had many successful infrastructure development projects. But the only disturbing development is that we lost seven girls due to pregnancies and early marriages. We lost more girls from Form 1 classes. Four pupils we lost were in Form 1, two from Form 2 classes and one from Form 3 classes as a result of unwanted pregnancies and early marriages,” said Mr Matatara.
He said some girls had been married to artisanal miners in the gold mining town.Mr Matatara said the school had 702 pupils in 2019 up from about 500 in 2015.The youngest girl to fall pregnant was 13 years, while the rest were said to be below the age of 18.The shocking figures have left a lot of questions on the effectiveness of sexual and reproductive health education in schools.
It has been argued that there were serious gaps in youth sexual and reproductive health issues in rural and resettlement schools resulting in young girls being lured into risky and premature unprotected sex.
Such risky engagements expose them to devastating effects such as obstetric fistula, risk of HIV infection, physical, economic and spiritual trauma.
The 2013 Constitution of Zimbabwe brought about a new dimension by mandating the State to play a leading role in the provision of education in the country in line with international practice.Zimbabwe’s school’s re-entry policy allows re-entry of pregnant girls into school after delivery.The regulation allows three months’ maternity leave for pregnant schoolgirls. However, the policy has not been effective due to varying reasons, one of them lack of political will.The policy does not allow a girl to go back to the same school, thus the new learning institution might be farther from home.