BULAWAYO — Residents of Bulawayo, including some teachers, have raised mixed feelings on the new law that allows schoolgirls who fall pregnant to be given a chance to deliver and then continue with their education.
Last week, the government announced that girls who fell pregnant during their studies would no longer face automatic expulsion.
The students would be given three months’ leave to allow for the resumption of their studies after giving birth. The law went a step further to allow those schoolboys responsible for impregnating the girls to be given paternity leave. A survey by NewsDay on Wednesday established that there were mixed reactions to the new regulations.
Goodwill Chikwakwa, a resident, said with such a policy in place, teachers who impregnate schoolgirls should not be fired.
“It is important to realise that such a policy will automatically force other policies to be put in place,” he said. “If a schoolgirl is now allowed to be pregnant at school, given time to deliver and then return to school, then a teacher who impregnates a schoolgirl should not be fired, but should also be allowed to continue with his profession, since at some point he will be teaching mothers in his classroom.”
However, there are also people who believe the new policy has a positive side to it. Mthokozisi Sibindi, a graphic designer, said the new approach is commendable as it takes into account the lifestyle of the new generation.
“We are now past the era where it is a sin that one becomes pregnant at an early age,” he said. “We are now in an era where as parents we have to accept that our children are engaging in sexual relations at an early age. Therefore, to some extent the new policy is positive in that the girl does not have to miss out on her education because she has fallen pregnant.”
Sibindi’s views were reiterated by Rumbidzai Mapanzure, a parent.
“Maybe instead of closing our eyes and pretending as if it is not happening, we should find ways to deal with such issues,” she said. “In the old days, once a schoolgirl fell pregnant, she knew that was the end of her life. However, the new policy gives her a second chance at life.”
Mthulisi Mpofu, a secondary school teacher, said the new law was not a good idea as it would be difficult to teach a mother in one’s classroom.
Mixed views on schoolgirl maternity leave