The Non Governmental Organisations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC) is dismayed by the high dropout rate of girls from school in Luwingu District because of child marriages and teenage pregnancies.
According to statistics obtained by a team from NGOCC and the Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD) in Lupososhi Constituency, in Mulala and Katuta Chiefdoms 86% of girls drop out from school between grades (four) 4 and (seven) 7. For example at Likolongo Primary School in Chief Mulala’s area, only 4 out of 28 girls at the beginning of grade 4 made it to grade 7 in 2014.
The high dropout rates in Lupososhi, according to our preliminary inquiry is as a result of the socio-economic woes as well as the traditional and cultural norms in the area. The absence of female role models in the area has further compounded the sad state of Affairs. The dropout rate is also as a result of the lack of investment strategies in the education sector by the Government.
It is sad to note that, the area has no secondary school to absolve the high numbers of pupils being churned out of primary and the two basic schools that go up to grade 9 only.
The only secondary schools in the two chiefdoms are more than 200km away in Luwingu Boma, these being Lubwe and Kasaba Secondary schools in Samfya district. The only secondary school under construction in Katuta area of Lupososhi is still far from completion. The construction of the Secondary school, which started in 2013 if far from completion as so far only the slab has been constructed. We therefore appeal to the government to ensure that they support the construction of this school so that the situation can be mitigated.
Luwingu chiefdoms remain a far cry for many development pursuits with a number of households still living in harsh socio-economic realities. Women and girls’ vulnerability has increased with a number of them greatly challenged with access to basic social services.
Child marriages and teenage pregnancies are a real time bomb requiring concerted efforts. Government and all other stakeholders have an opportunity to make a difference by focusing on the realities of girls’ vulnerability and step in to redress this unfortunate trend.
A combined Civil Society team, comprising NGOCC and ZCSD is in Luwingu undertaking gender and constitutional awareness and sensitisation programmes.
Engwase B. Mwale