Fourteen teenage girls from Mzoma Community Day Secondary School (CDSS) in Mzimba District have dropped out of school since the start of the year after getting pregnant.
Headteacher of the school Steve Ghambi told Malawi News Agency (MANA) that the girls were found to be pregnant after hospital check-ups at the start of the second term of the current school year.
According to Ghambi, some of the pregnant girls were in form three while others were in form four and were supposed to sit for the 2017 Malawi School Certificate Examinations (MSCE).
The headteacher attributed the sad development to poverty which, he said, forces the girls to be in relationships with men who can give them money.
“I can say that this stems from poverty where most parents do not support the education of their children, hence their engagement in sexual relationships with men,” Ghambi observed.
He added that long distances the learners travel to get to school contribute in putting the girls at the risk of being harassed sexually while on their way to school.
“There is need for stakeholders to consider constructing a girls’ hostel for security if we are to check incidents of pregnancies,” he said, urging parents in the area to support education of their children to avoid early pregnancies.
The incident of pregnancies at Mzoma CDSS comes at a time when there is an outcry that the district’s education standards are going down, among other reasons, escalated by more interest among the youth to trek to South Africa than to continue with education.
The Government of Malawi is constructing girls’ hostels in community day secondary schools in the country to reduce girls’ vulnerability to abuses such as sexual harassment by men which sometimes lead to early pregnancies.