MASVINGO - Over 100 school girls at Masvingo’s Chingwizi camp between the ages of 10 and 12 are believed to have fallen pregnant in the recent past.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has blamed the alarming pregnancies of the young girls at the transit camp on the terrible living conditions at the facility.
The teachers’ union in a report titled The Dilemma of Learning at Chingwizi said the conditions at the transit camp that have contributed to the rise of child pregnancy and school dropouts.
From the more than 2 500 school children that were enrolled at Chingwizi transit camp’s primary and secondary schools, close to 400 have since left school to fend for their families.
Although the report does not give the exact statistics of the number of girls who have dropped out of school after getting pregnant, it is believed that over 100 girls so far were victims of unwanted child pregnancy.
“The conditions in the Chingwizi camp where pupils live, share accommodation with their parents are not conducive for children.
“Tents donated per family are inadequate so much that a family uses one tent for accommodation purposes.
“Many a time, pupils have to leave their allocated family rooms to allow their parents to enjoy their conjugal rights. This has led to many students roaming around at night instead of studying.
“This has also contributed to high sexual activity among students, moral decadence and social decay, let alone abuse particularly by police more so given the critical shortage of resources at the camp and the police’s strategic position by virtue of controlling food distribution and storerooms,” read part of the report.
In the report, PTUZ alleges school going girls were falling pregnant on a daily basis as they are forced to indulge in sex in a bid to beat hunger, as food shortages continue to bite.
“Children as young as 10, 11 and 12 years have fallen pregnant at Chingwizi while hundreds of other students have simply dropped out of school because of the pathetic nature of the schools,” PTUZ said.
The trade union body added that the school environment was simply not enticing to pupils, many of whom have decided to move and seek for an alternative way of life.
In most cases the pupils are hungry at school. They also have no proper classroom. At home they have no shelter and can hardly have a good meal and sleep.
This, according to the union, has caused many to respond to this combination of desert, forest and hardships by simply dropping out of school and seeking for “greener” pastures be it marriage or employment.
PTUZ, however, blamed government for failing to settle an impasse with villagers to move out of the camp and create better living conditions and improve the learning environment for the struggling kids.
“While government and the community engage in suspicion, remote negotiations, guerilla cold war, prevarication and mistrust, it is the girl-child that has become the poorest of the poor and the most miserable victim of all victims,” PTUZ added.
The union said other issues affecting learning for students were noise from the camp dwellers, poor health facilities like lack of proper toilets and clean drinking water, shortage of learning materials, and poor infrastructure, among others.