When schools opened their doors for the new year on March 15 and March 22, many were left wandering as to why a significant number of female learners did not turn up for classes.
Meanwhile, according to a latest Government report, 4 959 teenagers were impregnated in January and February this year, while an additional 1 774 got into early marriages.
The report pointed out that the figures could actually be higher, as some of the cases go unreported.
“During lockdown, learners spent more time at home, which left most men converting the community to a hunting ground,” said Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Dr Sithembiso Nyoni.
“What is worrying is that most of the perpetrators are never brought before the law and that these teenagers are abandoning school yet Government allows for them to go back.”
“It is possible to re-admit students at school. But a lot comes with being pregnant and being a wife. Some of them are no longer prepared to go back to class, hence we need parents, teachers, guardians and experts to unite in this purpose.”
Meanwhile, Norton Member of Parliament, Temba Mliswa says the problem has been compounded with effects of lockdown, adding that such alarming statistics may also be attributed to legislators who pass laws without analysing the consequences.
He says the moment the law is amended to allow school girls to continue attending lessons whilst pregnant, it opened the door to such repercussions.
“We can’t turn learning institutions into maternity clinics, neither can we generalise the circumstances leading to schoolgirl pregnancy.
“I debated against this motion and questioned how it was sneaked into Parly. Rape, abuse e.t.c are totally different matters to be treated separately,” says Mliswa.
Mliswa points out that as Zimbabweans, people have only themselves to blame, adding that many don’t understand the Constitution and vote legislators into power who have limited understanding of the gravity of their roles.
“We can’t blame anybody else but ourselves.
“How do we have pregnant girls continuing in class as though all is normal? Discipline must be maintained. Once we relax about such matters, this is the sort of indiscipline that begins to permeate in our society,” he adds.
According to UNICEF, teen pregnancies remain a global challenge. It is estimated that at least 16 million girls aged between 15 and 19 fall pregnant every year.