By Fungai Lupande
About 36 girls at Kamutsenzere Secondary School in Mt Darwin reportedly failed to write their Ordinary Level examinations last year after falling pregnant, an Adolescence Sexual Reproductive Health (ASRH) coordination forum heard last week.
Another 789 pupils in the same district reportedly dropped out of school last year, 499 were primary students and 290 secondary students.
These figures were revealed by Mr Luckmore Pamhidzai, provincial facilitator for Young People’s Network during his presentation on young people’s involvement and participation on sexual reproductive health, HIV and Aids issues.
However, the provincial education director, Mr Tapuwa Mudiwa, said he needs to verify and confirm the figures from the district schools inspector.
Speaking at the meeting, Mr Pamhidzai said the increase in school dropouts is leading to teenage pregnancy and child marriages.
“Film screenings have proved to be a reliable strategy in conveying messages to do with ASRH, HIV and AIDS. We are working on an advocacy film that talks about the issue of child marriage bedevilling the province,” he said.
“It is the right of young people to participate meaningfully in their own development because it leads to more effective and sustainable programmes.
“The youths believe that anything for them without them in it is not meant for them.”
He added that lack of adherence to medication among adolescence living with HIV and Aids due to stigma in schools is a cause of concern in the province.
“The prevalence of stigma among adolescence living with HIV is relatively high in the school setting.
“We managed to have support groups in all other districts except Muzarabani,” said Mr Pamhi- dzai.
“This is due to the absence of Africaid, a major implementing partner for this activity. However, adolescents living with HIV in this district have not been forgotten.”
National ASRH programme officer Mrs Marian Machimbirike said the national agenda is to reduce teenage pregnancy from 22 percent to 12 percent by 2010.
“There is need for a comprehensive sexual education in and out of school and to increase access to sexual reproductive health services.” The Herald