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Learner pregnancy policy unripe


by Shasimana Uugulu
Education

 

The Ministry of Education does not have statistics on the number of pregnant learners who drop out of school annually as well as number of male teachers who have impregnated school girls, The Villager has established.
This, despite an increase in the number of school children who have reportedly fallen pregnant by either teachers or other pupils while in school.
Also the revelation comes despite the fact that the Minister of Education Dr Abraham Iyambo last year launched a Learner Pregnancy Policy aimed at minimising the occurrence of pregnancies among school learners.
However, nothing has been done since the policy was launched, The Villager discovered.
Toivo Mvula, Chief Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Education said the Ministry does not have annual statistics on the number of learners who drop out of school due to pregnancies.
“Individual regions may be keeping such records, but the Ministry does not have an annual database regarding the number of learners who drop out of school due to pregnancies. The same applies to male teachers who have impregnated school girls,” said Mvula.
The Leaner Pregnancy Policy was meant to create stringent conditions against child pregnancy and also protect the girl child from falling victim to sexual abuse.
The policy document calls for frequent recording of learners’ pregnancy cases so that schools and regional directorate can offer proper management and support to such learners.
Mvula said the Ministry faces challenges in compiling an annual database as regions are not required to send the information to head office.
He added that this has resulted in inabilities to measure the success of the LP Policy in reducing the number of pregnancies among learners.
The Ministry of Health and Social Services is the only one that keeps regular records of teenagers who give births at hospitals and clinics nationwide.
One of the main aspects of the LP Policy is aimed at prevention of pregnancies through encouraging abstinence, better sexual education and effective access to contraceptives.
The policy has also resulted in pregnant learners being able to attend classes until at least four weeks before delivery. It also allows both the father-learner and mother-learner to continue with their education as it recognises that “the newborn infant will have a better chance in life if both parents are able to complete their secondary education”.
Mvula said the policy implementation aims at bringing the rate of learners’ pregnancies to a minimum before Vision 2030.
Ironically, the Learner Pregnancy Policy document has failed to adequately address the issue of teachers who involve themselves in improper relationships with learners.
The policy put more emphasis on aspects such as counseling, learners’ sexual health, managing pregnant learners and educating the learner-father and learner-mother on their responsibilities but does not address how learners should deal with sexual maneuvers from teachers.