Schoolgirl pregnancy shocker

Young girls continue to become pregnant at unacceptably high rates in the Ohangwena Region.

17 July 2017 | Education

Education authorities in the north are grappling with rising teenage pregnancy and many girls of schoolgoing age are dropping out of school due to the problem.

Alarming statistics provided to this newspaper by the Ohangwena Education Directorate, about 109 pupils fell pregnant in the first trimester this year, which includes 16 primary school learners.

These staggering figures were announced by Ohangwena regional education director Isack Hamatwi.

“Teenage pregnancy is high, but learners are not leaving schools any more. During the first school trimester this year, 109 learners fell pregnant. This includes 16 primary school learners - one in grade 5, three in grade 6 and 12 in grade 7,” Hamatwi told Namibian Sun.

“After giving birth, these learners are expected to return back to school. The schools are busy implementing the learner-mother programme for those who fall pregnant to return back to school,” Hamatwi said.

He added the majority of teenage pregnancies reported in the region are at schools in the rural areas.

The Forum for African Women Educationalists Namibia (Fawena) has stepped in to support pregnant and schoolgoing mothers, while protecting them from discrimination.

Fawena is a non-governmental organisation working in partnership with the ministry of education.

Programme director Happy Shapaka said they only assist vulnerable and those from marginalised communities.

At the moment, 3 000 schoolgoing mothers from all 14 regions are receiving support from the organisation.

Ohangwena has one of the highest rates of teenage of pregnancies.

“Currently only 670 are attending the Fawena mother-learner workshops that are underway in Ohangwena Region. But we are informed that there are other schools that have expressed interest in sending their learners to the workshops so that they can start benefiting. If we are to register all these learners, Ohangwena will have the highest number of schoolgoing mothers under the Fawena programme,” Shapaka said.

“We do not take all the schoolgoing mothers, but the number we have is high already. We are not sure how many have not met our requirements.”

Namibian Sun understands that only 670 learners are registered under the Fawena programme, as various schools failed to respond to the request.

According to Shapaka, Ohangwena is followed by Omusati with 427 schoolgoing mothers, Kavango West (395) and Kavango East with 296 schoolgoing mothers.

Shapaka said the organisation gets financial assistance from the Global Fund and each learner is allocated N$1 884. The money is used to provide school uniforms, stationeries, toiletries and transport.

“We only take vulnerable and marginalised pupils because they have no one to offer them support to continue with their studies. We empower them through workshops were they are motivated and encouraged to continue and finish their studies. We would like these learners to rise and not to repeat what they have done. We would like them to become responsible citizens in future.”

However, despite the assistance rendered by Fawena, young learners are still dropping out of school due to teenage pregnancy.

ILENI NANDJATO

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