The government has announced that 1 753 pupils from Matabeleland South dropped out of secondary school during the second quarter of the year for several reasons, including teenage pregnancies.
Presenting a health and social services sub-committee second quarter report during the Matabeleland South Provincial Development Committee meeting yesterday, provincial social welfare officer, Mr Criswell Nyakudya said this figure is worrying given that the country is working towards achieving quality, equitable and inclusive education at all levels.
The drop-outs were also attributed to teenage pregnancies and lack of interest in school among others.
Mr Nyakudya said the province has made significant progress in ensuring access to universal primary education. “The province has made significant strides in achieving universal primary education, a key challenge remains in the access to quality, equitable and inclusive education across education levels.
“During the second quarter of the year, there has been an increase in access to education at the primary level due to the contribution of private players especially at the ECD level,” he said.
“A gap still remains at the secondary level. The provincial enrolment during the second quarter went down by 3,1 percent.
This means that 1 753 pupils dropped out of secondary school during the period under review.”
Mr Nyakudya said the province recorded an improvement in non-formal education as 5 369 pupils enrolled surpassing the set target of 4 800. He said 3 577 pupils were enrolled in vocational training centres in the province.
Mr Nyakudya said a number of schools in the province are running viable commercial ventures such as goat-rearing, poultry, piggery, cattle ranching, horticulture and fishery.
He said the issue of child protection remains a major concern in the province with a number of children being abused within their home set up.
“A total of 136 children were placed under residential care during the second quarter. This means that these children were removed from the communities where they were staying because they were not being properly taken care of, some were being ill-treated, abandoned or their guardians were no longer in a position to look after them,” said Mr Nyakudya.
“These children were then removed from society and placed in institutions. Effective social protection and safety nets, policies, systems, and programmes play a major role in reducing poverty and vulnerability, redressing inequality, and promoting inclusive growth and development of human capital.”
Mr Nyakudya said it is important for all members of the community to take child protection issues seriously. He said 30 children were placed under foster care during the same period. “Guardians in the province were now forthcoming to foster children. A total of 39 children with disabilities were assisted with rights-based services while 317 children were assisted on drug and substance abuse-related services,” said Mr Nyakudya.