OVER 3,000 girls have dropped out of school in Eastern Province this year due to child marriages, pregnancies and financial challenges.
Acting provincial education officer Kondwani Nyirenda said the figure is alarming but the problem could be resolved with concerted efforts from key stakeholders such as traditional leaders.
Mr Nyirenda, in an interview in Chipata yesterday, said though the prevalence of child marriage and early pregnancies among school girls was alarming, there was likely to be a slight reduction compared to last year.
Last year, 3,736 girls dropped out of school and of these, 249 were orphans while 919 lacked financial support.
“From January to September 2015, a total of 3,525 girls have dropped out of school due to early marriages, pregnancies, financial and other problems,” Mr Nyirenda said.
He said in the same period, more than 240 boys dropped out of school for marriage.
Mr Nyirenda said Government is working with traditional leaders to reduce the incidence of girls dropping out of school because of pregnancies or child marriages.
In this campaign, school girls who dropped out of school due to pregnancies are given a second chance to return to school as stipulated in the re-entry policy.
He said mission schools, however, are refusing to accept girls after maternity leave as they consider them undisciplined.
Mr Nyirenda said efforts are being made to accommodate in public schools girls that are turned away by mission schools.
He commended traditional leaders for the role they are playing in the campaign against early marriages among pupils in their chiefdoms.
“I would like to commend our traditional leaders for helping us, through awareness campaigns, to reduce the number of girls getting married,” Mr Nyirenda said.