HARARE – MORE than 4 500 Zimbabwean girls aged between 11 and 13 have dropped out of school this year alone because of early pregnancy.
“Sugar daddies” have been blamed for the crisis which saw the young women fail to sit for final Grade Seven examinations.
Minister of education, Lazarus Dokora, has made the startling revelation in Parliament, where legislators have expressed outrage and want the girls
to be given an opportunity to write examinations in 2017.
“The girls might have been taken advantage of by the rich ‘sugar daddies’ and are now going to be consigned into permanent poverty as a result of
having been taken advantage of at that early stage,” said opposition legislator, Cecil Zvidzai.
She demanded answers from the minister how government would address the issue.
Minister Dokora said the affected girls would only be allowed to continue with their studies only part-time.
There is no provision in Zimbabwe to allow pregnant girls and young mothers to be in class.
In 2017, the education ministry will inaugurate a campaign against early marriages, working in conjunction with the ministry of women’s affairs,
gender and community development.
Rights groups have blamed the teenage pregnancies in Zimbabwe to rampant poverty, which exposes impoverished schoolgirls to older, better-off men.
There have also been suggestions the decades long drought was exposing children to older man with the hope of securing food.
In some cases, some girls have been forcibly married and raped.
– CAJ News