ZIMBABWE: Country makes it illegal to expel pregnant girls from school

Zimbabwe is the latest country to ensure pregnant students don’t miss out on their education. As it has made it illegal for schools to expel pupils who get pregnant, a measure women’s rights campaigners said would help tackle gender inequality.

“Every child whether boy or girl… has a right to go to school in Zimbabwe,”

 said Cain Mathema, the education minister in charge of schools

Cain Mathema said he is expecting every parent or guardian and everyone else to understand that every child must be assisted by everyone to go to school.

The legislation was signed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa under amendments to the education act that officially prohibits state schools from banning pregnant students from attending school.

“No pupil shall be excluded from school for non-payment of school fees or on the basis of pregnancy,” 

Under the amendments,

In 2018, 12.5% of the country’s roughly 57 500 school dropouts stopped attending classes due to pregnancy or marriage reasons – almost all of them girls, according to Education Ministry statistics.

In circumstances where the pregnancy was a result of kids of the same age, the boy would not be necessarily expelled from school.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cain Mathema said they were excited that the President had signed the Act.

The Act will also outlaw corporal punishment as school authorities are now required to draw up a disciplinary policy in accordance with standards set out in regulations prescribed by the minister for the purpose.

Zimbabwe has one of the lowest pregnancy termination rates in sub-Saharan Africa, likely due to high rates of contraceptive use.

Zimbabwe Teachers Association, CEO, Dr Sifiso Ndlovu, said they fully supported the provisions of the Act as it was consistent with modern society.