Pregnant Learners Back in Class

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Sixteen expectant learners from the Caprivi Senior Secondary School recently suspended for being pregnant and three male students accused of some of the pregnancies are back in class. Initially, New Era was told by Michael Mudabeti the school head that nineteen students were pregnant and that one male learner was accused of having impregnated five of the student girls. But yesterday, the Regional Director of Education in the Region Lovemore Lupalezwi revised this figure saying based on the report submitted to him by the school “only” 16 learners – and not 19 as the school earlier confirmed – were temporarily stopped from attending classes because of pregnancy. The report further shows that three school-going boys impregnated several of the female learners in one of the worst cases of teenage pregnancy reported this year in Namibia from a single school. Unlike in the past this time, not a single male teacher was implicated. “The learners were allowed to write examinations especially that most of them have given birth already,” said the Regional Education Director. The school equally suspended male learners based on the Ministry of Education’s rules and regulations that every male learner who impregnates a female learner must similarly stay at home for a period of one year after the birth of a child. The ministry further in its operative policy relating to school pregnancies allows teenage mothers to remain in school until the pregnancy advances. However, they are disallowed from going back to the school until 12 months after giving birth. Out of the 16 pregnant females, 12 are day scholars and four are hostel learners. According to Lupalezwi, the school together with his office will still have to investigate how hostel learners got pregnant especially that the school has matrons to monitor and ensure order in hostels. The Regional Director of Education assumed that hostel cases could be associated with the fact that learners are at times allowed to go for weekends and that is where they meet men. He expressed dismay at the whole situation, adding that “we are very concerned with their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. We hope that though they are pregnant, they are not infected.” The Caprivi has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the country. The school runs programmes on HIV/AIDS and how school-going children must refrain from engaging in sexual relationships. Condoms are also provided at libraries and at school laboratories, Lupalezwi said. The school has about 1 000 learners, with 48 percent of them being female. Lupalezwi regards the situation as unfortunate especially that there is a great need for a girl child to remain in school as the country strives to reach a 50/50 situation in terms of employing equal sexes in recognized positions.