4 500 Grade Seven pupils impregnated

LAZARUS-DOKORAZvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter—
At least 4 500 Grade Seven pupils countrywide, the majority of them girls, dropped out of school this year after falling pregnant or getting married, Parliament heard on Thursday. Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora, however, told the National Assembly that the pupils were free to rejoin school at a later stage as young “mothers, wives, fathers or husbands”.

Presenting a Ministerial Statement in the National Assembly on Thursday, Dr Dokora said of the 329 549 candidates who wrote Grade Seven examinations this year, at least 4 500 would not proceed to Form One.

“A total of 305 549 will enrol in day secondary school with effect from Monday, 12th December, 2016. Sadly, 4 500 of our girls and boys will not be seeking Form 1 places in 2017, having regrettably left school owing to pregnancies and marriages,” said Dr Dokora.

“We have said in 2017, the ministry will inaugurate a campaign against early marriages working in conjunction with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, whose minister is Hon. (Nyasha) Chikwinya. So, we are also mounting a campaign. UNFPA have agreed to work with us and have already been in the field. So, we will heighten that,” said Dr Dokora.

The statement about the 4 500 school dropouts attracted a barrage of questions from legislators who wanted to know what policy framework Government would introduce to curb the scourge. Gweru Urban MP Mr Cecil Zvidzai (MDC-T) said he was concerned that the girls were preyed by unscrupulous people with “fat” pockets.

“The girls might have been taken advantage of by the rich, ‘sugar daddies’ and ‘sugar mummies’ and are going to be consigned into permanent poverty as a result of having been taken advantage of particularly at that early stage. I would have expected the minister to talk to us around how he is going to deal with these 4 500 unfortunate cases,” said Mr Zvidzai.

Matabeleland North MP Dr Ruth Labode (MDC-T) surprised the House when she proposed that pupils be given condoms saying according to the Demographic Health Survey, they were dying because of HIV/AIDS, abortion and early pregnancies.

“A Form 1 child, for me is aged around 12 years or 13 years, but what has happened here, these children were indulging in sex and this is confirmed by the Demographic Health Survey. For me, it raises a policy issue. What should we be doing Hon. Dokora? There is an issue here. We should allow these children to access health services; everything else that you access from the condom to everything. Let them access it because they are dying,” said Dr Labode.

In his response, Dr Dokora said the pupils could rejoin informal learning at a later stage.

“As to the 4 500 boys and girls that I made reference to, the boys left school to marry and the girls left school on account of pregnancy or to also get married. So, the way you treat that has to be differentiated. We have non-formal education stream and in this year, the statistics show that 28 000 have participated in the non-formal education sector. They can come back as young mothers and fathers/husbands and continue, not in the full-time programme but in the part-time educational programme. They are welcome,” said Dr Dokora.

He said Parliament was free to further interrogate on the prudence of giving pupils condoms or not. “As to whether this now leads to say give condoms in the schools, I think that is another debate and I would benefit from the wisdom of the House,” said Dr Dokora.

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  • Hurungudo

    A 12 year old falls pregnant and no one is accountable? Not even the parents or guardian? Does having sex with a minor not a crime or are we saying if she falls pregnant, drops out of school and gets married then it ceases to be a crime? Why don’t we have 4500 cases of criminality in the courts now because these are cases known and on record? Are these cases not happening in constituencies that are represented in parliament? Where are the elected members of parliament? What are they doing about it? Where are the so called gender and child protectors? Or they are just activists to syphon cash from donors? How old are the boys who get married and how old are the “wives”? The whole unfortunate situation is not a Dokora responsibility alone. We are dealing with parents, teachers, respectable members of communities and churches and children here. It’s a critical problem that can’t be left to a parliamentary debate. By the time it comes to parliament it’s too late. A case of 4500 children is too frightening a figure to be reduce to silly talk shows that we are observing in these parliamentary committees. Instead of sitting in air conditioned rooms in comfortable chairs sipping mineral water asking the minister silly questions, please go out into your constituencies and sort out the mess.

    • Yenzile

      Figures of 4,500 dropping out of school could be correct. The reason attributed to it is not the right one. As rightly pointed out there should be 4,500 corresponding criminal cases for paedophiles but i think the minister is being economical with the truth. These kids are droppin out because of poverty. That is the truth the real State of the Nation. I dont see how a grade 7 boy drops out of school to get married!!!! Zznu pf govt will not accept that they are failing us as a nation they would rather lie through their teeth and make us believe their fallacies. Shameless idiots!!!!

  • Cecil Roars

    This story lacks detail. If I rely on it it does seem that the 4500 grade 7 pupils married each other. If that is correct, and I believe it’s correct because the minister suggests that as reported here.
    But as a parent I have my opinion too. I do not think the boys married their classmate girls and married. Mr Dokora, if this is the case then we have a huge problem. However my opinion is that much older men who should be guiding the girls actually preyed on them.
    The minister should only tell us how many of them got pregnant- we want to know how many girls make up the dropouts out of the 4500.
    But varume ndine hurombo musa dya vana. Kids are kids and they can’t be eggs. You are disgusting bastards.

  • Hallo

    Grade 7 Exams were written in October and the results came out about one and half months later.Are we saying the 4 500 pregnancies were noticed after writing the exams ? If not , we can exempt the boys, how did the girls write the exams?

  • Hallo

    The figures are frightening, are we say 10schools of 450 pupils were impregnated ?

  • Tambai Mese Mujairane

    Tomana touched in this subject, we all threw stones at him, hezvoka..now you are asking that it be debated, which is what should have been done.It is happening, they are indulging in adult things, we cant hinde behind a finger.This also shows that quality of parentimg is getting poorer..The parents of today are a confused bunch.

  • Piankhi

    It has become a disease.. Not just the girls pregnancy, but the potential for HIV infections with these children. This madness should be tried as rape and prosecuted immediately. But the problem is a lot of these government Ministers and others look at young girls as part of a perverted culture and not even caring they are destroying a life that has not lived yet. If these were my daughter at 12 and got pregnant, the culprit would be buried. For assault and rape. They would not exist. This laws for child marriages are not being enforced and it only encourages future of abuse of these young woman by predators. Perhaps castration of all the criminals would send a clear message to stay away from young girls. Something needs to be done immediately. Or the rise of HIV will increase and then you then we will be watching another lost generation of our young and future, because of sexual predators.