articles, opinions, and research about teaching and learning

Teachers Forum
December, 2001

Helping Pregnant Girls Re-Enter
Education in Zambia

An interview with
Ms Daphne Chimuka and
Education Project Officer,
Stella Manda
Agnes Mumba Imonda

Ms. Agnes Mumba Imonda is a very special teacher. Although only 29 years of age, the work she does shows wisdom beyond her years. Mrs Mumba has been a primary and secondary school teacher and has a Bachelor of Arts with education. Her main concern is ensuring continuing learning opportunities for girls, especially those who have dropped out of school because of pregnancy. She also works to ensure that young girls who are pregnant do not suffer discrimination. She is married with three children.

The contents of this interview were provided by the FAWE Zambia Co-ordinator, Ms Daphne Chimuka and UNICEF Zambia Project Officer, Education, Stella Manda.

Question: What gender-related interventions did you make in your local community?

Answer: I was able to catalyse the local community to get behind an initiative in a rural area, to start a school for local girls who could not access secondary school because there was none in the area. I was also concerned to ensure the re-entry to school, of girls who were expelled from school due to pregnancy. Some girls had stopped school three or more years back. Between 1999 and now, I managed to get 17 such girls back to school.

The school building transformed piggeries and chicken runs into dormitories. The school started with 35 girls in 1999 and has 300 girls to date. I was able to spearhead resource mobilization for the school, from the locally-based private companies such as the Cement and Electricity companies.

Q: Do these children have to pay school fees, and if so, how much?

A: The school fees are normally Zambian Kwacha 150,000 and 60,000 (USD42 & 17) per term per child for boarding and day scholars respectively. There are normally three terms. Girls from poor families pay in kind (bags of maize, goats, chickens etc.), get bursaries from organizations such as FAWEZA, CCF and World Vision. The school also buys seeds for girls who raise vegetable gardens. From the realisations of the vegetable gardens the girls are able to pay for school fees.

Q: Are there any gender responsive classroom and/or curriculum delivery processes in the school?

A: There is what are called "Reading Circles". Girls at the school are reading mentors and assist girls from a nearby basic (primary) school to improve their reading skills. At the same time girls at this secondary school develop leadership skills. After regular classes, remedial lessons are conducted where, in groups, faster learners assist the slower ones.

Q: Are there any gender responsive actions in the school for the re-entered girls - especially ones that relate to facilitating their learning achievement?

A: Re-entered girls (earlier expelled from school due to pregnancy), normally undergo counselling sessions on entry to the school. Counselling mainly focuses on HIV/AIDS and assertiveness. In addition to this, there is a bridging programme for the re-entered girls by way of individualised extra tutoring. This is normally done for girls who have not been in school for six months. There is also a monitoring programme in a form of a club, called SISTA (Sisters Informing Sisters on Topics about AIDS). Here peer mentors help their friends deal with the situation of being pregnant and plan for going back to school after delivery. Some of the girls participating in this club are teen mothers. This helps to build confidence and self esteem, especially of girls who dropped out of school due to pregnancy and later re-enter school. The girl-only school arrangement provides space for girls to better articulate and uncover their potential.

Explore the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) Web site.

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Last revised December 1, 2001
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