State makes U-turn on school pregnancies

GOVERNMENT has said school girls who fall pregnant and those responsible for the pregnancies face exclusion and expulsion respectively.

This comes after reports attributed to Harare provincial education director Mr Calvin Mazula that learners who fall pregnant would be granted maternity leave.
In an interview with The Herald on Wednesday, Education, Sport, Arts and Culture Deputy Minister Lazarus Dokora said pregnancy was a serious misdemeanour and the penalty was exclusion for the girl and expulsion for the boy responsible.
“It’s taboo in our culture for a baby to conceive another baby and our laws do not permit that. The responsible boy can only be classified as an adulterer.
“Statutory Instruments 362 and 363 of 1998, which were both translated into the Secretary’s Policy Circular Number P35 of October 8, 1999 clearly state that these pupils face expulsion and exclusion,” he said.
Deputy Minister Dokora said maternity and paternity leave were a non-starter as this would seriously compromise the quality of education.
“Our leading position in Africa was earned from years of careful investment in the sector and we cannot exchange it for such silly things,” Deputy Minister Dokora said.
He clarified that the stipulated three-month exclusion period could be extended depending on the condition of the female student.
“The policy has a gender bias with the interest of the girl and unborn baby considered to be of paramount importance.
“If the pregnancy is discovered early or the young mother is not physically fit, then the exclusion period can extend beyond three months,” he said.
He said special arrangements could be made if the girl was due to write a public examination during the exclusion period.
The regulations state that if a boy learner is responsible for the pregnancy, he faces one-year expulsion with the option of re-incorporation into another school.
Deputy Minister Dokora said: “If a teacher has committed the crime, the ministry also put him under disciplinary action and if the perpetrator is an ordinary person the decision lies with the parents.
“In both situations the parents or guardians are free to take the offenders to court.” -Herald Reporter

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