FDD president Edith Nawakwi says government should make it an offence for parents to keep children out of school.

Reacting to President Edgar Lungu’s State of Nation Address on the application of national values and principles, Nawakwi told ZNBC at Parliament building, Friday, that there was need for government to make it illegal for parents to keep their children out of school.

“I honestly believe that one of the solutions to resolving this issue is to make education a right. Our friends in Tanzania just here, President [John] Magufuli has decreed that no child or school going age must be out of the classroom, it must be an offence for parents to keep children out of school. And I think we would be making some progress but we cannot do that decree or make a legislation to that effect when in fact, those that are in grade seven we are pushing them out of education system, those that are in grade nine we are throwing them out, those that are in grade 12 we are spitting them out to the streets. And even those that manage to go to the universities, you find them on the street. We need to invest in education so that there must be a time in our life, in the life of this republic that education must be mandatory and must be available under universal education,” Nawakwi said.

“We need to show a price, if you are running for a price, you get determined. I think there is no excuse for us as a country at this level of growth of 54 years old for us not to push the value of educating a girl child into the heads of parents. When I was young, it was a choice of going to the field or going to school and I went to school because you are going to be a teacher, you are going to be a nurse.”

She said teen pregnancy was also another challenge which the country needed to address.

“One of the major issues that we need to address as a country is teenage pregnancy and I am pleased that it’s coming to the fore that this is a major problem that a country faces. And the question we need to ask ourselves is ‘why is this scourge so rampant?’ I think that we have to go to the basics. We have travelled some of us around the country, you can go to Chama South, you can go to Chinyinji, you will find young girls not in classrooms and I think that is the beginning of the problem. When we keep our children out of school, whether they are girls or boys, the boys are on the lake in areas where there is fishing like Western Province for example. When it is December, the children are cut off from any educational institution and then you wonder that our curriculum doesn’t take account of the fact that during the rainy season, there are some parts of our country that are cut-off and our kids are not able to go to school,” said Nawakwi.