Teenage marriages rife in Tsumkwe schools

05 Apr 2019 18:00pm
GAM, 05 APR (NAMPA) – Deputy Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Anna Nghipondoka on Thursday emphasised that all forms of teenage marriages including those fuelled by cultural, traditional or religious beliefs are wrong.
Nghipondoka made the remarks at a public meeting at Gam in the Tsumkwe Constituency, after school teachers informed her of a high number of school girls and boys who are married traditionally, but continue to attend formal school classes.
This situation has led to over 50 school girls from the Gam and Tsumkwe senior secondary schools falling pregnant in 2018, as they are allegedly wives at home and school learners at the same time.
During the meeting the education deputy minister expressed shock at the situation, saying these girls are married to boys who also attend formal school and attend the same grade and classroom as husband and wife.
“We cannot have a school girl wife and school boy husband in a classroom, our education policy does not allow it,” she expressed.
Nghipondoka however informed the public meeting that there is a policy allowing pregnant girls to attend formal school and to also return to class once they deliver, but not for both the girl and boy to be married while attending school.
She did not mention any punitive measures to be taken for the married school going learners, but raised concern that if the situation is left unattended the performances of the girls will be affected.
She therefore called on parents to discourage teenage marriages and to protect school girls from all types of cultural practices which interferes in their education.
Nghipondoka was part of a delegation consisting of various senior government officials on a two-day fact finding mission on development activities in the constituency.
Principal of Gam SSS, Chris Muatjetjeja during a meeting with the delegation said the situation is real, adding that his hands are tied since these marriages are known and approved by the parents of the learners.
“Parents are saying it is not a problem, it is their culture. Therefore, it is them approving these kind of marriages,” he said.
He added that in 2017, more than 30 girls in Grade 11 and Grade 12 at his school were impregnated by the so called husbands.
Upon enquiry by Nampa after the meeting, some parents at Gam said their culture approves cousins to marry each other when they reach a reasonable age.
“We do it to keep our family roots tight. So it is not a problem, some of us got married at the ages between 16 and 19 in a traditional arrangement, and here I am, nothing bad happened to me,” said a female parent.
MS/EK/PS