Balaka likely to register more school dropouts post COVID-19

Balaka District Gender Office has expressed concern over what it says the behavior of young people which will result in increased school number of dropout rate in the post COVID-19.

The concern comes following the closing of schools due to COVID-19 which have left young people uncontrolled from sexual activities which may result in teenage pregnancies and early child marriages.

Balaka StudentsIn an interview with district gender officer Hannah Kishombe said school going children are home but they are not aware of the reasons why they are home so they are just lingering around the town behaving immorally.

Kishombe said :”I can see at the end of the day, those cases of early marriages and teenage pregnancies to be at a high rate. To them it seems like they have been given a chance to play and do whatever they want”.

She described the situation to be difficult as her office is not able to raise awareness or take any action on the matter due to restriction measures which government set to minimize the spread of corona virus.

“It is very difficult for us to take an action, during awareness campaigns we talk to masses of people, so with social distancing it cannot work and on top of that we depend on other organisations to support us with resources and due to COVID-19 restriction measures most of them are not functional”, said Kishombe.

The district gender officer then appealed to all parents and guardians in the district to remind their children the reasons why they are home and advise them on the impact of the immoral behaviors.

Commenting on the on the same, Foundation for Civic Education and Social Empowerment (FOCESE) said young girls are likely to be facing sexual abuse as they are being exposed to irresponsible men outside school.

According to Women Empowerment Officer for FOCESE Dalitso Kachiwala, young girls are spending much of their time doing businesses at the markets and playing in the communities leaving them at high risk of being sexually abused.

“My concern is on young girls who are sent to sell different products in various market places  which is  risking their lives, and others are spending most of their time in the communities together with those irresponsible men who are likely to take advantage of them”, she said.

Kachiwala  further said Balaka is one of the districts with high sexual abuse cases recorded every year and the situation is to get worse since no one is on the ground to sensitise these young people as organisations are observing corona virus preventive measures.

Ellen Kasamba a parent from Mponda village, Traditional authority Nsamala in the district explained how some of these young people are behaving saying they will be an increase in a number of standard 8  students with  pregnancy and will affect their examination  as most of them will be home nursing their pregnancies.

Kasamba said both boys and girls are behaving recklessly, using the school blocks to do sexual activities while boys doing drugs and substance.

“I doubt if most of them will write the exams, akugwiritsa ntchito makalasi ngati maroom (they are using classrooms for sexual activities). They will be home looking after their pregnancies”, she said.

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