AS the government strives to keep female students in schools, an appalling trend is unfolding in Rukwa Region where 517 of them reportedly dropped out as a result of pregnancies between 2015 and last year.
Rukwa is one of the regions in the country with the highest drop-out rates, according to the recent 32nd Regional Consultative Committee (RCC) held under the chairmanship of the Rukwa Regional Commissioner, Mr Joachim Wangabo.
In his presentation, the Regional Education Officer (REO), Mr Albert Mloka told the RCC meeting that female students dropped out between 2015 and 2017.
He explained that 288 were in secondary schools while 37 were in primary schools.
"I am appealing to residents in the region to take a holistic approach in curbing child marriages and school dropouts," the REO said.
The Rukwa Regional Commissioner, Mr Joachim Wangabo, said the government will not tolerate parents and guardians who collude in marrying off schoolgirls, warning that stern measures will be taken against them.
Mr Wangabo elaborated that between July 2017 and May 2018 about 149 students were impregnated, among whom 51 were primary school pupils while 98 others were secondary school students.
The RC further said that towards addressing the challenge, several measures had been taken at regional and district levels, including educating wananchi and students on the disadvantages of loose morals amongst young girls.
He said 54 hostels had been built in public secondary schools, adding that provision of meals in public schools was crucial.