By Cyrus Bengo
Covid 19 has set us all back to countless ways, but for a girl child in Malawi it has done more than just setback, we have forged her name to Mphatso. We meet 14 years Mphatso at Kawale in Lilongwe , she is not here for a period of devoted time of pleasure, Mphatso is the mother to be by her fellow classmates at Mpondesi Primary School in Mangochi. Since she told her boyfriend about the pregnancy he has been at large a situation forced Mphatso to look for him in Kawale after being tipped that he has relocated there.
Her ordeal typifies several cases the girl children are currently meeting.
” I got pregnant out of ignorance ” Lack of formal education being a std 7 learner and sex education may have contributed largely to her pregnancy , Malawi Demographic and Health Survey(MDH) released on 15 March 2017 revealed that Malawi was facing population explosion, now the education authorities in Mangochi says, over 7,00 girls are mom’s to be ,they are baffled that 7,274 teens in the district have become pregnant since closure of school due to Corona pandemic.
One of the findings of the survey found that girls in rural areas are more likely to get pregnant than their counterpart in urban areas. The sex education also play a major role in preventing the pregnancy, the study found.
Like Elube Chirwa 18, said she has been in a sexual relationship . The form 2 student at Champhira Community School in Mzimba district said though she is asexually active she has never engaged herself in unprotected sex.
” I’m sexually active that is why me and my boyfriend uses condoms , I love my boyfriend and he loves me too , I know sex is intimate relationship between a man and women. I was taught at school that sex is meant for married couples only but we are sexually active that is why we resorted to use the condoms” said Elube.
A social commentator , Wonderful Mkuche stressed the need for government and it developing partner’s to scale up and invest more in sex education to eleviate the trends.
” HIV can be transmitted through un protected sex where one is already infected. This is one issue they should prioritise in educating the young people about sex life, in effort to stop early pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. “
On calls by some quoters of society to just open learning institutions with strict preventive measures Mkuche had this to say.
” In time, Malawi needs to face the reality as well but not now. We need a plan on when we can open the schools. But we will need to prioritize, for example exam writing classes first and then when we seem to be copping up, the other classes as well. It must be accepted that the virus will not entirely disappear as this may take long. We therefore cannot keep doing things as we do now. We will have to open up eventually but with high precautionary measures.
He adds that it was a proper decision by the government to close learning institutions in first place.
” it is proper decision for Government to close down learning institutions. Currently, we need to use social distance as a measure since there is no medication for it. If schools were opened and we have cases in the learners, it is easy for the virus to spread. Even further, the alarming numbers of infections will lead to some parents not sending their children to school and it will defeat the whole purpose.
Civil Society Education Coalition CSEC executive director Benedicto Kondowe says the Pandemic adversely affected the lives of young women adding that the period has seen spike in gender related Abuse’s because they have more free time at home instead of being at school, he however argues that it is absurd that the country lose sight of adopting modern technologies that will incorporate all sectors of education,
Kondowe further Uproar’s those initiating to have lessons prevail amid Covid 19 pandemic.
” Gvernment has to think outside box and and engage more community radio stations to air radio lessons , these radios have impact to communicate direct to its communities ” he said .