Some young people in some underprivileged communities in Zambia may not return to school this year, despite all education institutions having re-opened, because a number have either been married off or/and fallen pregnant during the months that the schools were closed.
Others are just staying home, because their parents are more comfortable with them being away from school, for fear that it may still not be safe for them to be in a school environment, while the country is still recording COVID-19 infections on a daily basis.
The schools had closed, in line with a Covid 19-induced partial lockdown, in March this year, and only opened after mid September, following a presidential directive to resume operations as a way of further opening up the economy.
Withdrawing Children From School
Speaking on national television, recently, James Zimba, the national campaign coordinator, for World Vision Zambia, a Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities, to overcome poverty and injustice, said from the information his organisation had gathered around the country, it was clear that some parents had given up on their children’s school.
“This is real and it’s making us uncomfortable,” Zimba cried out.
Government Fears For The Future Of The Country and Children
The country’s Ministry of General Education, says children dropping out of school in this manner has become so common to an extent of creating a gloomy forecast about the future of young citizens.
The ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Jobbicks Kalumba, fears this could be destructive to the country.
“It’s a general picture of what is taking place in the country. We’ve lost a generation, and if this was going to continue, to me, I wouldn’t even see the relevance of me being the Permanent Secretary of Education, when the children are not in school, because the future of this country lies in the children,” he laments.
The situation is bad enough as to grip Kalumba with intense emotion and the extent to which he is personally affected is evident by the way he speaks about the subject.
“Now, when you look at that picture itself, it’s gloomy, it’s bad. It simply shows that a lot of children may not even come back to school, because of what has happened. Others have contracted even diseases, early marriages, early pregnancies and this is going to be more devastating in the near future, than the Covid that we are fearing,” he observes.
A Plea To Parents
Kalumba adds that by reopening schools now, the Zambian government have restored the lost hope in the country’s children and appeals to parents who are keeping their children away from school, just because of fear that they may still contract COVID-19, to work with government as a team and send the children back to school.
“Why are you fearing to send the child to school, more than the early pregnancies, more than the early marriages? These are more devastating in the welfare of the generation!” Kalumba cries out.
Zimba further advises parents that going to school is every child’s rights and as such, they should uphold that right.
“The quick message is that school is on, protect your children and these children must be taken to school, because it is their right to have education, so parents, don’t give up, COVID is here with us, but children must go to school at all costs,” Zimba asserts.
“Shall we convince our boys and girls, wherever they are, to go back to school!,” Kalumba concludes.