Thursday, 21 November 2019

THREE TEENAGE BOYS DROP OUT OF SCHOOL TO GET MARRIED


SOME teenage boys have reportedly dropped out of school after getting married at Matetsi Secondary School in Hwange District, amid concerns the whole district could have high rates of early child marriages.

Following a story by the Chronicle last month that 10 female pupils from the school failed to sit their Ordinary Level examinations because they got married and dropped out of school this term, Government departments and its partners instituted some investigations that are underway.

Preliminary findings show that at least three boys between the ages of 14 and 18 dropped out of school after getting married while in school. 

So far, 10 girls and three boys are confirmed to have dropped out of school after getting married, investigations by gender activists in the district have shown. Some of the marriages are between school pupils while some girls were married by men from the community.

There are suspicions that several cases of child marriages in the Matetsi resettlement area, according to members of the community that spoke to some of the organisations carrying investigations in partnership with Government departments in the area about halfway between Victoria Falls and Hwange, have gone unreported.

As a result, an all-stakeholder district policy coordination meeting was held at the Hwange District Development Co-ordinator (DDC)’s office recently to map a way forward.

Civil society organisations that participated in the meeting were Buwalo Matalikilo Trust (BMT) which initiated the investigations after its Gender Action Team officers noted the dropouts, Girl Child Network, Greenline Africa, Hopeville, police and the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association. BMT executive director Mrs Annah Mandizha-Ncube said their findings showed that boys are also affected by early child marriages. 

“Initially it wasn’t easy to access information but because we had a mission we kept pushing. We are gathering information and so far we have confirmed about 10 girls and three boys who dropped out because they got married. We have names of these cases which we will be handing over to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and other departments. So far we have engaged some of the concerned families of the pupils, some will be going back to school. What’s worrying is that we have been told that there are several other pupils with similar cases hence the need to continue investigating,” she said.

Girl Child Network official Mrs Robin Chimowa said the victims need counselling and support from the community.

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is also instituting its investigations.

In a recent interview, Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister Edgar Moyo said efforts should be made through the school education policy to deal with parents and guardians who marry off minors.

Unesco recently reported that 20 400 pupils in the country dropped out of primary school in 2018 due to various reasons including early marriages, financial constraints and absconding, death, and sickness. Chronicle

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