17 Same School Girls Pregnant, 51 From On Zone in Salima
School closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic has brought with it negative side effects on communities in Malawi where increasing numbers of girls who should otherwise have been in class and now expectant.
For example in Salima district, 17 girls from Katelera school are pregnant in the five months that schools have been closed.
And for the education zone in which this school is, a total of 51 school girls have been recorded as expectant within the said period of children’s idle stay in homes.
The development has pricked Story Workshop into action.
SWOT project coordinator for the UN Joint Programme on Girls Education JPGE, Given Chichitike, says there is need to reactivate Mother Groups in the area on this.
Mother Groups are designed to act councilors to girls encouraging them to refrain from behaviors that could land them in situations such as being teen mothers.
“We are now encouraging Mother Groups to begin a door-to-door campaign encouraging the girls to stay away from premature sex. And also to follow Covid-19 prevention guidelines.
“Other girls are even being forced into marriage by parents who have lost all hope that schools will open again,” says Chichitike noting that the majority of the girls impregnated are aged below 18.
Primary Education Advisor for Katelera Education Zone, Sosten Kaliza, says his office will put in place measures to engage the communities so as to save the girls.
“I am equally shocked,” he said “Twenty three of the 51 are now married.”
Martha Konzani, chairperson of Katelera Mother Group says as mothers, they will do their part to help out but observed that this was a society problem whose solution lays with all stakeholders hence the need for government to move in with speed.
The closure of schools due to Covid-19 has presented a challenge to the UN Joint Program on Girls Education which exists to encourage girls stay in school.