A TOTAL of 88 pupils aged 18 years and below fell pregnant during the first term of 2019 in the Oshana region.
They include two pupils in Grade 7, and 16 in Grade 8. The highest number of pregnancies was in Grade 9, where 25 pupils were affected.
Oshana regional governor Elia Irimari made these revelations in a speech read on his behalf by his special adviser, Michael Mwinga, during the launch of the pupils' admission campaign for 2020 on Monday.
Irimari said although a large number of these pupils (74) are still in school, their academic performance is declining sharply, and they may not pass their grades at the end of the year.
The Oshakati circuit is said to have had the most pregnancies with 38 pupils, followed by the Oluno and Onamutai circuits, which accounted for 17 and 14 schoolgirls, respectively. The Ompundja circuit had 11 pregnancies, while Eheke recorded eight.
According to the statistics, the Oshana education directorate recorded a total of 130 dropouts for various reasons.
Irimari said other than pregnancies, no reasons were given for most pupils dropping out of school, which was stated as "unknown" with 34 cases, followed by 15 pupils who transferred to other regions. Fourteen pupils indicated that they had lost interest in school.
The governor urged parents and caregivers to educate their children about the implications of intimate relationships, and to help them make positive choices that will protect their education and their future.
"I am hereby instructing schools and parents/guardians/caregivers to start working together to ensure no child drops out of school. All the children of school-going age who are not going to school in the villages, towns and locations should be registered by the headmen and local area leaders.
"The office of the director of education, arts and culture in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare and the police should see to it that all these children are returned to school with immediate effect," stated Irimari.
The Oshana education directorate is also faced with a myriad of other challenges, especially regarding indiscipline.
The governor said 48 pupils were reportedly suspended from school for various offences during the first term. The most common reason for the suspensions were fighting comprising 15 cases, followed by bullying with 10, drug/tobacco abuse, and theft with six offences each.
"The discipline of pupils has become a serious obstacle that is preventing teachers from teaching effectively. Children who misbehave in school disrupt both their learning and the learning of others, and they jeopardise their own future in the process," Irimari stressed.
The directorate is also experiencing an influx of people from rural areas flocking to urban centres, and they are migrating with school-going children.
About 105 pupils were listed as having transferred during the first term of 2019.
Irimari urged parents, guardians and caregivers to voluntarily support schools in order to acquire the latest teaching and learning aids for the betterment of the quality of education.
Oshana education director Hileni Amukana echoed similar sentiments, saying the directorate is working hard to ensure that the learning environment is conducive for all pupils in schools.
Amukana said the government has set up policies to ensure that the learning and teaching environment is conducive for all pupils.
"In spite of these challenges facing the directorate, I would like to urge all parents and caregivers to meet us half way in order to ensure that all children are kept in school. If we all work together, I'm sure we'll be able to make sure that no child drops out of school.
"Programmes such as the school feeding programme are aimed at ensuring that no child attends school on an empty stomach, thereby reducing the number of school dropouts," said Amukana.
Read the original article on Namibian.
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