The re-entry policy introduced by government to allow pregnant school girls complete their education after birth is not being utilised properly, says Namwala UPND member of parliament Moono Lubezhi.

In an interview with News Diggers!, Lubezhi said the re-entry policy is a good Bill in itself, but regretted that the intended beneficiaries were not doing much to compliment government’s efforts, as statistics of girls getting back to school after birth had continued falling.

“The policy itself is good because it gives everyone a chance to get an education. But there is need for beneficiaries of the policy to materialise it. Us, as lawmakers, we pass a law, but if the intended beneficiaries are not executing the law, then what do we do? If a girl child gets pregnant and opts to get married, then what else can you do? There is nothing you can do; it’s up to the parents. But otherwise, we are encouraging everybody, don’t to rush into marriage, whether you are of age or not, please go back to school. Falling pregnant is not the end of the road. There are a lot of teenage pregnancies, but you have to go back to school and get an education,” Lubezhi appealed.

Asked whether or not the re-entry policy had worked according the expectations, Lubezhi said more needed to be done.

“I think it’s 50-50 because girls, once they get that maturity, they feel they are now in charge of their lives and they tend to go against the parents’ advice. But I think the parents should help the lawmakers to see to it that this girl child does not fall prey of getting pregnant. Talk to your children about sexual education; if they fall pregnant at least tell them it’s not the end of the world. Encourage them to go back to school and remain with their child after birth so they can go back to school. If anything, breastfeeding is only six months and I have also known people who don’t even go to the extent of breast feeding, they send their children back to school. But again, that’s about poverty levels; is this household able to look after this infant? So, it’s relative really, there is a lot involved in it but if you are to ask me, the Bill is okay,” Lubezhi added.

“The policy is alright because gone are the days when once you fall pregnant then that’s the end of the world. Gone are the days also where when you fall pregnant and friends get to know that you have a child at home… we used to have girls where once you know that she has got a child then you start mocking her until they run away from school. But those days are long gone; nowadays, you will even find teenage girls who are pregnant posting their little babies on WhatsApp and other social media. So, I think we are moving in the right direction, but the intended beneficiaries, the parents and the children themselves have to work to see to it that this law materialises.”

She encouraged parents whose children fall pregnant while in school to ensure that the girls went back to school after giving birth.

“The intended beneficiary also has to put in something themselves. They have to ensure that they utilise this policy because as lawmakers, we can’t force people to go back to school after they have given birth. We can’t say ‘you go back to school whether you like it or not’ because then human rights come in. When somebody is of age and you find most of those girls who fall pregnant they are of age. So, it is sad that this is a good law but it is not being fully utilised. Then the issue of discrimination is also another problem, this is where now we have to advocate for this law to make people understand, and if anything, now there is adult entry,” said Lubezhi.

“But again if you are to ask me why low numbers of people who go back to school after giving birth, others you find that they can’t afford to leave that child, you are the only person who can look after that child.”