Keeping girls in school, and overcoming the barriers
© UNICEF Mozambique/2012/C.Bach
With one of the world’s highest rates of adolescent pregnancies, Mozambique struggles with the very important task of keeping girls in school.
One of the first things Loveness mentions is how
she has always loved going to school. She reiterates
how important it is to learn, and shares her
dream of becoming a nurse. Close to her chest,
her 3-month-old daughter sleeps calmly. Loveness
looks down to her. "Felicia will become a teacher
one day," she proclaims, smiling.
Loveness is one of many girls in Mozambique
who got pregnant at an early age, and subsequently
dropped out of school. The country has one of
the worlds' highest rates of adolescent fertility, and
with 179 births per 1,000 girls (aged 15-19), teen
pregnancies constitute one of the biggest obstacles
to girls' continued education.
"When my belly started to grow, I felt like I
could not be in the same classroom as my friends
anymore. Despite everybody telling me that I
should continue, I was ashamed of the state I had
put myself into." Loveness explains.
Her parents escaped to Zimbabwe during the war
in Mozambique, and Loveness was born and raised
on the other side of the border until four years ago,
when her parents decided to return. They moved to
the little town of Changara (Tete province), where Loveness started Grade 4 at the primary school,
EPC Changara Sede School. Loveness was only in
Grade 6 when she became pregnant, and she tried
to hide it from her teachers and friends.
"I noticed that something was changing about
her, and it took a while before I realized that she
probably was pregnant. She would not tell me, she
even avoided me. And then one day she suddenly
stopped coming to class," Tezinho Njanje,
Loveness' teacher, recalls.
Loveness did not see any other option than to
drop out. Her parents and the baby's father kept
insisting that she go back and study for her future,
but she felt ashamed and did not believe she could
be a good student when she had just become a
Tezinho Njanje is one of the teachers at EPC
Changara Sede who has taken part in the School
Council and teacher training offered through
the Child-Friendly Schools initiative. The School
Council consists of teachers, parents and
representatives from the community. "We meet
and consult, often about issues such as teen
pregnancy and school drop-outs, and when there
is a problem, the School Council tries to talk to
the family. In the teacher training, I learned not
only how to identify different health conditions
and try new teaching methods, but also about the
importance of supporting all children's right to
education." he says.