Long distance to schools and lack of boarding facilities is reported to be contributing to high pregnancy rates among girls who are forced to rent accommodation in villages to earn an education in Mwinilunga district of North Western province.
Mwinilunga District Commissioner Masela Sekeseke-Chinyama bemoaned the high rates of pregnancies among schools that have ravaged Mwinilunga in an interview with ZANIS in Solwezi yesterday.
Ms Sekeseke-Chinyama said last term alone over 300 girls from different schools in Mwinilunga fell pregnant, with an entire class of girls affected at one of the schools.
She said long distances to basic schools coupled with lack of boarding facilities is forcing girls to rent houses in the villages to attend classes, but observed that economic pressures of staying alone coupled with absence of supervision from parents and teachers, the girls are being enticed by men into sex in exchange for money to buy food and pay rent.
“Pregnancy among school girls is a very big problem in Mwinilunga. What is happening is that schools are few and very far from villages forcing pupils to start renting houses in villages to attend schools as there are no boarding facilities. But economic pressure and lack of guidance from parents and teachers is forcing girls to have sex with men in exchange of money” she said.
While she commends government for the retention policy that allow girls who fall pregnant to return and continue with school after delivery, Ms Sekeseke-Chinyama said there is need for the state to build more boarding schools in Mwinilunga so that pupils, especially girls are protected from vices such as sex.
The Mwinilunga District Commissioner also called for the introduction of comprehensive sex education in schools starting from grade one up to secondary school level.
She said those opposed to the introduction of sex education are burying their heads in the sand at the expense of the reality on the ground.
She said sex education is very important as it will empower girls and boys with the right knowledge about their sexuality to avoid engaging in sexual activities that also result in unwanted pregnancies.