The Herald (Harare)

8 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Girl Gives Birth in Between Exams

An Ordinary Level pupil at Harare's Girls' High School who gave birth in between her examinations is expected to complete sitting for the rest of her registered papers. Sandra Kwenda (18), whose pregnancy was unknown to her parents and school authorities, has been sitting for her examinations since last week.

She skipped her Shona paper yesterday, after going into premature labour that culminated in the birth of a baby girl at Mbuya Nehanda Maternity Home, almost the same time her classmates were writing the Shona paper.

Sandra said she managed to write four papers in the days preceding labour and was expecting to finish off the rest.

"I have been writing and I am still going to continue, I feel strong enough for it," she said with a chuckle.

Her sister, who only identified herself as Mai Prosper, said the delivery was premature.

"The baby was born at seven months, that is why she is weighing only two kilogrammes," she said.

Authorities at the hospital said the premature delivery could have been caused by the stress of examinations.

According to the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, schoolchildren may be suspended, excluded or expelled from school for misconduct, but an exception can be made in the case of girls who fall pregnant.

Depending on circumstances, such individuals can be allowed to continue with their education.

Girls' High School headmistress, who was only identified as Mrs Mutsambiwa, denied knowledge of Sandra's pregnancy.

"Yes, Sandra is one of our students, though I'm not aware she was pregnant or missed this morning's paper," she said.

According to the United Nations, approximately 16 million women aged between 15 and 19 years account for 11 percent of all births worldwide.

In Zimbabwe 49 to 52 percent of female adolescents become mothers by the time they turn 19-years-old.

HIV and Aids activists, who also include chiefs from some of the country's districts, recently called for the introduction of condoms in schools to prevent new HIV infections.

Latest statistics from the Southern Africa HIV and Aids Information Dissemination Centre reveal that HIV prevalence in young women aged 15 to 19 is 6,9 percent compared to 3,3 percent of the opposite sex in the same age group.

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