The president of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Dr Takavafira Zhou has said the government is to blame for the high prevalence of pregnancy cases among learners. This comes after the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Education has reported that over 400 learners dropped out of school due to pregnancies and or illnesses. Meanwhile, education minister Cain Mathema said communities and parents or guardians should work together for the upbringing of children since the said pregnancies were registered while learners were home. We present Zhou’s statement below.
Gvt Reponsible for the High Prevalence of Pregnancy Cases Among 2020 Students
17 October 2020
Ptuz baseline survey has shown that more than 20 000 of the 2020 final examination girl candindates are heavily pregnant. While parents may be partially responsible for this state of affairs, gvt must take the large blame.
Fundamentally, gvt enacted regulations allowing pregnant girl children to continue with their education have been taken as an open cheque to sex with the consequent high prevalence of pregnancy among students. We highlighted previously that there was need for wide engagement with communities and educators but our professional advice was disregarded. Not that the enactment was totally wrong, but that it was hurriedly done without engaging stakeholders and explaining its efficacy. Anything right but done at the wrong time and without safety valves is totally wrong and we are paying for our wrong actions. The govt must therefore accept total responsibility for its actions and inactions.
Over and above since schools closed on 24 March there was very little activity, if any, to engage students and communities on awareness of covid 19 pandemic, confidence building, new pedagogical intercourse between teachers and learners, and creating hope for a better future. The only source of intertainment for poor students became sex, more so when the politicians, artisinal miners, money changers and some rich cartels dangled monetary poisoned carrots.
Worse still the current gvt has presided over the fall of the teaching profession from grace to grass with monotonous regularity, reducing salaries from US$520-US$40 thereby eroding the value and dignity of teachers. The loss of our lustre has also been accompanied by loss of being role models so much that our advice is not accepted by students. We therefore have lost our role as custodians of moral values and good chacter builders with the consequent high prevalence of pregnant cases among students.
Govt has eroded the importance of education in Zimbabwe so much that students do not see the value of pursuit of educational endeavours. So when students meet ‘potential cash husbands’ they are eager to get pregnant. Sadly, most of such potential husbands are either already married or liars who quickly dump students.
Worse still the more than 90% unemployment, poverty and misery of majority of Zimbabweans have left many parents unable to pay school fees and thereby enticing students to engage in sex in order to survive.
The current situation where students are going to schools where more than 90% of teachers are not present due to incapacitation will worsen the prevalence of pregnancy rate. Several students leave their homes allegedly to go schools but never get there as they spend the day either in guest houses abused by politicians and cartels or in some bush abused by artisinal miners etc. Most such students leave their homes wearing uniforms but quickly change into other clothes along the way.
-The right to education is a fundamental right that must be guaranteed by gvt in order to allow children from poor families to pursue their education to a logical conclusion.
-Gvt must restore the status of teachers that has been eroded over time. The best way to do so is to pay them a living wage.
-Parents must stop sending their children to school until teachers are in schools. If so many pupils got pregnant while in your custody, what more is happening in the absence of teachers in schools? It is free for all, more so given group sex orgies arranged by students where male and female students would be naked drinking and taking drugs.
To be forewarned is to be forearned.
Dr Takavafira M. Zhou (Ptuz President)