Thursday, November 30, 2023

Poor uptake of school re-entry programme for adolescent mothers

… As only 3.3% remain in school after pregnancy

Beverly Bizeki

Efforts to keep the girl child in school after adolescence pregnancy have remained low despite the introduction of a school re-entry policy which allows girls to continue with school after falling pregnant whilst in school.
A study conducted by Centre for Sexual Health and HIV AIDS Research Zimbabwe (CeSHHAR) together with the Ministry of Health and Child Care, UNICEF, UNESCO and UNFPA has revealed that only 3, 3 percent returned to school and 59 percent said they were aware of the provision.
“Only 59 percent of the adolescents were aware of the provision to continue school during or after pregnancy. Despite public awareness of the re-entry policy only 3, 3 percent of the adolescents remained or were retained in school after pregnancy while the majority had no intentions of returning to school,” reads the report.
The report cited childcare responsibilities and fear of stigma as some of the reasons why they do not want to get back to school.
“Parents and some community leaders had reservations regarding reintegration of the pregnant adolescents in schools. Parents feared that the reintegrated of pregnant and adolescent mothers will negatively influence other adolescents and might result in more pregnancies in the schools,” reads the report.
The study shows that there is still more that needs to be done in terms of debunking such norms that dissuade girls from continuing with their studies even after falling pregnant in order to empower the girl child.
“There is need for investments in fighting harmful social and gender norms. Policies need to go beyond simply allowing return to school by addressing the supportive conditions required to enable adolescent girls to return to and stay in school,” reads the report.
COTRAD Information Officer, Leah Matavire said there was need for policies and practices to ensure that leaners are readmitted into school after getting pregnant and policies to protect them from harassment.
“There is need for counselling for girls who get pregnant whilst going to school because there are cases of stigma and harassment from other students, serious counselling is required for such students,” she said.

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