THE number of pupils dropping out of school because of pregnancy is still high compared to those that are re-entering after breast feeding, said Forum for Women Educationists of Zambia (FAWEZA) acting executive director Costine Kachele.
Figures from the Ministry of Education have indicated that the number of girls that are falling pregnant have increased from 3,663 in 2002 to more than 17,600 in 2015.
But girl-child re-entry policy statistics, however estimated that only about 2000 out of about 15,000 make it back to school.
Mr Kachele said FAWEZA was working with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Muchinga and Western provinces to encourage female pupils to go back to school.
‘‘Two thousand girls have managed to go back to school so far and we are going round in selected schools to inform them on the re-entry policy,’’ said Mr Kachele.
Mr Kachele said lack of information and the cost of education has contributed to the increased rate of pregnancies in young girls and unsupervised boarding houses have also put them at risk of indulging in sexual activities.
FAWEZA recently estimated that up to 15,000 school girls fall pregnant every year in the country.
Mr Kachele said FAWEZA is making efforts in reducing the pregnancy rate by engaging parents in sensitisation programmes on the need to take their children to school.
‘’FAWEZA is also sponsoring a number of young girls who fell pregnant but have decided to go back to school,’’ Mr Kachele said.
The Government introduced the re-entry policy in 1997; the aim was to ensure that girls who fell pregnant while at school could go back and complete their education.
‘‘A pregnancy of the girl child has a great deal of negativity in two ways: apart from curtailing her education, she is forced to sacrifice her childhood by going into marriage at a tender age,’’ he said.
This was in response to the apparent limited opportunities by the girl child who had been forced to drop out of school the moment they became pregnant.
Mr Kachele said there’s need for more sensitisation to ensure that every parent was aware about the re-entry policy so that more female pupils go back to school after delivery.