One hundred and Ninety (190) school going girls from 35 schools in Chibombo District have fallen pregnant while fifty others have been married off by their guardians between January and August this year.
This is according to the data collected by Chibombo District Education Board Secretary’s Office from 35 out of 177 schools in the district.
Giving a report during a Stakeholders meeting on Adolescent Reproductive Health, District Guidance and Counseling Coordinator in the DEBS Office, Cornwell Fula said most of the affected girls are below the age of 16.
Mr Fula added that majority of the girls who have fallen pregnant and those married off were from the Primary Schools.
He said the 50 girls who have been married off were just withdrawn from schools by their guardians who then gave them into marriage.
Mr Fula said the figure could be much higher because the data was only collected from 35 out of 177 schools in the district.
Meanwhile, Mr Fula said head teachers are finding it difficult to talk to the parents and guardians in the communities over the continued rise in the number of school going children being married off.
He said this is because some parents have reportedly been telling the head teachers to only concentrate on their teaching responsibility and stop getting concerned with what they decide to do on their children outside school.
“Our teachers are told that you teachers, your job here is just to teach and it ends in the classroom and what happens after the class is our baby because these are our children and you have no powers over them,” Mr Fula reported.
And Chibombo District Commissioner Felix Mang’wato has described the increasing number of school going girls falling pregnant and those being married off in the district as a timing bomb.
Mr Mang’wato said parents and guardians who are withdrawing their children from school in order to marry them off are frustrating government’s effort of ensuring that every girl child attains all levels of education.
He said government has continued to introduce policies that are aimed at retaining as many girl children as possible in school in order for them to achieve higher education.
Mr Mang’wato cited Re-entry Policy and lower cut off points for girls in schools as some of the strategies that government is implementing to ensure that more girl children are able to progress in education.
And Chibombo District Medical Officer Priscilla Chisha said children who fall pregnant at a tender age are likely to have many health complications because their reproductive system has not yet fully developed.
Meanwhile, several stakeholders in the district have agreed to work together to fight teenage pregnancies and early marriages in the area.