[By Masuzyo Chakwe in Petauke]
MOST girls who fail to go to school end up working as maids or in shops, some pupils in Petauke district in Eastern Province have disclosed.
The pupils said after writing their grade seven and nine examinations, many of them fail to go back to school due to lack of money.
“Most of the girls when they fail to go to school end up going to work as maids to raise money for school and they are as young as 12 years old. Some end up selling in shops, herding cattle or drinking beer,” one of the pupils said when a team from Panos visited Zuze village.
They complained about the lack of computers in schools, which makes it difficult for those in examination classes.
The pupils said one school had three computers only to cater for the whole population.
Another pupil said there were no enough desks in classes, making some of them sit on the floor.
She urged the government to provide desks and also fix the library.
“We want power, we have no electricity in the village. Some can afford to use solar torches , but most of them cannot afford. We also need more boreholes and dams,” she said.
And during a stakeholder meeting on advancing children’s rights to quality health, education and protection through effective governance processes, Panos child rights governance project officer Changwe Chibuye said child participation creates a platform for children to hold state actors to account.
Chibuye said it was fine for people to ask questions.
He said children constituted 51 per cent of Zambia’s population, hence the need to be involved in decision making.
“Children view things from a different perspective, which should be considered in making public decisions,” said Chibuye.
And Petauke district education standards officer Thomas Mkandawire said the government wanted learners to have skills, knowledge and a positive attitude.
Mkandawire added that there was a ‘back to school’ campaign because of COVID-19 where many girls fell pregnant and failed to return to school.
Petauke district recorded 391 pregnancies, the highest number in Eastern Province, from January to September 2020.
An officer from the social welfare who sought anonymity, said they deal in psychosocial counselling, early marriage, child neglect, repatriation for juveniles who come into contact with the law and recommend for bursaries.
Panos, with support from Save the Children Zambia, is implementing a Child Rights Governance (CRG) project which promotes the participation of children in the governance processes at district, provincial and national levels.
The Radio Listening Clubs are platforms for children to know about their rights as enshrined in the national and international instruments.
They also provide a platform for children to develop leadership and life skills.