Okeeholongo – Villagers at Okeeholongo in Okahao Constituency in the Omusati Region are concerned about the rate at which schoolgirls are falling pregnant at the hands of cattle herders in the area as some of the herders reportedly set up home with girls from destitute families.
Villagers who spoke to New Era last Thursday said few parents are motivated to send their children to school, and cattle herders who seem to be the only people with a monthly income in the area reportedly engage in unprotected sex with naïve schoolgirls who are lured with promises of cash.
Cattle herders at Okeeholongo earn between N$400 and in some instances N$500 per month unlike in other areas where herders earn above N$1 000.
The villagers are mostly from the marginalised San community. They said although they did not have exact figures on the rate of pregnancy among the girls the figures are apparently “too many” and shocking and alarming.
“Even if learners attend a school that has a community hostel, when they come back for out weekends they fall in love with cattle herders and will be absent from school even for an entire week,” lamented one of the villagers.
Villagers said because cattle herders are the only breadwinners in the area learners go for them as they have some financial means.
“Teenage pregnancy is very high because once the learners that are schooling far come home, they are in the hands of cattle herders and they will be impregnated,” said a concerned community member who is also a teacher at a school in the area.
The concerned villagers said that the lack of parental involvement in their children’s education has exacerbated the situation.
“Parents see nothing wrong with learners dating cattle herders because it is also their source of income; therefore it is difficult for them to tell learners about the importance of education,” said the principal of Okeeholongo Primary School, Kaitungwa Absalom.
Absalom said that although at his school there are no teenage pregnancies because the learners are under age, the situation in the area is very disturbing.
“Some learners are smart, doing well in their schoolwork but the moment they come for the weekend their lives are cut,” he said.
He said the children need parental support, which is lacking in the community since people concentrate more on alcohol.
Parents and learners do not understand the importance of education and there are no role models in the area, he added.