Human Rights Watch (HRW) has written to David Mabumba the Minister of General Education telling him that the implementation of the re-entry policy for girls who fall out of school is generally weak across the country.
HRC conducted a research in June 2018 and found that the re-entry policy is not fully implemented across the country, in particular because there is a lack of awareness and training on the policy in schools and communities, and monitoring of adolescent mothers’ re-entry to education remains weak overall.
Evidence gathered by Human Rights Watch suggests that physical copies of the re-entry policy guidelines are not present in all schools and in community centers. For example, the current policy stipulates that after a student’s pregnancy is detected, the school and the student’s parent should enter into an agreement by signing a document noting a date on which the adolescent mother will return to school. Several civil society groups reported to Human Rights Watch that students and parents do not widely receive support from school officials, such as assistance with this required paperwork, or information relevant to the re-entry policy requirements.
Human Rights Watch says it discovered that Pregnant girls and adolescent mothers also experience stigma and bullying from peers and teachers, another possibility that may deter their return to school. School-based counseling support to girls throughout pregnancy and motherhood is not widely available.
‘Our consultations also showed some instances where adolescent mothers are discriminated against when they try to return to school. Civil society groups have found that this is particularly the case for adolescent mothers attending faith-based schools, who are routinely asked to enroll in a different school,’ HRW told Mabumba.
Among other measures, HRW has recommended that Zambia should consider adopting a new policy that focuses on guaranteeing compulsory education for all girls by removing clauses that stipulate a conditional period of time for pregnant students to drop-out or to return to school.