Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

4 000 school drop outs!. . . Poverty, sexual violence forces girls out

By Babbington Machingura

About 4 000 girls have dropped out of school due to poverty and sexual violence in the Midlands province and $2 million has since been secured to pay their school fees so that they return to class.

Speaking in an interview, NAC Midlands Provincial Manager Mr Mambewu Shumba said about $2 million has been raised to pay school fees for the girls under the DREAMS programme.

The DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-Free, Mentored, and Safe) initiative is funded by the USAID and coordinated by NAC to reduce new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women by 40 percent in 10 sub-Saharan countries, including Zimbabwe.

“We have raised around $2 million in order to pay school fees for the girls under the dreams programme. We have realised that there has been a sharp increase in the number of girls dropping out of school as a result of sexual violence and poverty.

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According to statistics obtained so far, more than 4 000 girls in the Midlands province have dropped out of school as a result of sexual violence and poverty,” said Mr Shumba

He said the programme was targeting less privileged girls who were victims of sexual abuse and most of them were in the rural areas.

“We have managed to improve the outreach of the dreams programme. We have covered many areas across the province,” said Mr Shumba

Under the programme, adolescent girls and young women are provided with a core package of services that include educational subsidies, HIV testing, pre and post-exposure prophylaxis, prevention and gender-based violence support, family planning, social protection and economic assistance for the victims’ parents. The Chronicle