By Mark Matambirofa
Various stakeholders have welcomed a move by the government to allow pregnant girls to continue with their school adding that the move will go a long way in uplifting the girl child.
Girls who fell pregnant were barred from school on the basis that they might influence others to get pregnant.
However, all that is set to change as the new Education Act which was recently signed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa allow pregnant girls to return to school without discrimination.
Clause 15 Section 68D of the Act says that “no pupil shall be excluded from school for non-payment of school fees or on the basis of pregnancy”.
Speaking on the issues recently, Proportional Representation legislator Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga who is also the chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Primary and Secondary Education applauded the Act adding it was a milestone and move in the right direction.
“Many countries have allowed school girls to continue with education when pregnant and it has not increased the number of girls that get pregnant at school because we have gone to those countries.
“Girls do not necessarily choose to get pregnant some are abused, whilst others are victims of older man preying on them and so we should not be punishing girls.
“What we are planning to do is not punishing the girlchild, it is to create an environment that will ensure that she continues with school, she does not necessarily have to continue at the same school, she can move to another school because we understand they are a lot of issues that come with going to that same school.
“It’s about what we can do to our kids so that they get a better future and are able to look after their children,” she said.
Speaking on the same issues girl-child activists and former Harare West legislator Jessie Majome also alluded to the Act as championing the fundamental right to education which is stipulated in the constitution.
“I generally support the continuation of school for girls when they are impregnated, they never have been regulation or law that support the girl child’s right to continue with school when pregnant.
“Girls should continue with school especially when they a pregnant in order for them to be able to support that child in the future,” said Majome.
“It is a pity that society stigmatizes girls that fall pregnant in school when they should actually be supported and encouraged and it also goes in line with the right to education enshrined in our constitution because they need the education all the most”.
Violet Musaengana a mother of seven children also attested to the need to allow girls to proceed with education when pregnant adding that barring them was contributing to women being poor and undermined in society.
“Schoolgirls have to continue with education when pregnant so that they will be able to support their families when the time is right because this has been contributing to poverty and plight of women in society due to our little education especially when you face such circumstances of falling pregnant during your school days,” she said.
The Act also bans school teachers from bashing students as a way of preventing physical abuse and inciting violence at schools.
Educational institutions have been requested to build infrastructure that accommodates persons with disabilities as a way of improving access to education to Zimbabwean citizen.