By Christopher Chisi
In 1997, the government introduced the re-entry school policy that allows girls back into school after falling pregnant.
The policy is in line with Sustainable Development Goal number four of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.
To understand factors that contribute to teen pregnancies and early marriages 5Fm Radio journalist, Christopher Chisi talked to a 20-year-old girl of Munjile in Chief Hanjalika in Mazabuka District of Southern Province.
She says she was married off by her parent at the age of 16 due to poverty.
“My parents decided to marry me off in order to raise money so that they could meet the family demands at that time,” she recalled.
Jane Hansanka, not her real name laments that marriage life was not easy as she was always being abused by her husband.
It was at this point that Jane who is now under the re-entry policy decided to abandon the marriage and later returned to school.
She says her ambition is to become a nurse.
Her father Enerst Mungolo says “When she [Jane] complained of the challenges she was facing in her marriage, we told her that, that was a just a passing phase and that things were going to work out in future but that wasn’t the case as problems persisted.
My recent visit to Mazabuka one of the districts where Forum for Women Educationalists of Zambia (FAWEZA) working with Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) with support from Equality Now are implementing Access to Justice by Adolescent Girls in Zambia revealed that cases of teen pregnancies and early marriages like in other areas are a serious source of concern.
Mazabuka District Commissioner Agrippa Simatimbe reveals that “about 200 girls have been married off from May 2019 to April 2020, a development he described as sad.
The status quo has not skipped the attention of FAWEZA, WLSA and Equality Now who have put in place some interventions in order to curb the scourge.
FAWEZA Acting Executive Director, Costern Kanchele says, “through Access to Justice by Adolescent Girls in Zambia “a 2-year pilot project, they have put in place interventions aimed at curbing the scourge of teen pregnancies and early marriages.
Mr Kanchele says, “this project has two legs (components). One is on prevention of Gender-Based Violence which manifests through teen pregnancies and early marriages. The other component is a response to those who fall victim to Gender-Based Violence. We have formed a number of structures in the two areas of prevention and responses. Under prevention, we have trained teachers, mother mentors and further formed a safe space of 100 girls per school and these are given useful information so that they are able to identify GBV when it is about to happen, when it has happened and how to protect themselves from such vices.
“We have been operating for less than one year in the two schools before we started this project we have had a high teen pregnancy which has now changed.”
About the author
Christopher Chisi holds a Diploma in Journalism from the Zambia Institute of Mass Communication (ZAMCOM) Education Trust and currently working as a journalist at 5Fm Radio based in Lusaka Zambia.
With experience in Radio broadcasting Christopher, a multiple awards winning Journalist is also a blogger and researcher.
His work is mostly centred on good governance stories with the view to bring out problems affecting ordinary Zambians as a way of participating in fostering development and positive change in the country.
Phone: 0975-198-870 / 0969 797890