This was revealed yesterday by the Rukwa Regional Medical Officer Boniface Kasululu when giving report on the strategic plan to control child pregnancies.
He said the plan was the result of a meeting called by stakeholders in partnership with the government, Plan International, Africare and Jhpiego, NGOs implementing Safe Birth Project in the region.
He said statistics on child pregnancies in the region show that in the three years period (2017/2019) 722 girl students had pregnancies, adding that 171 of them were from primary schools and 551 from secondary schools.
However, he said since the region did not have a robust plan in acquiring reports on child pregnancies; it was likely the figures were too low.
Child pregnancies is among big challenges facing Rukwa region whereas demographic research statistics for 2015/16 showed that 29 percent of women of 15 t0 19 year age group were either pregnant or had children already.
He said various researches show there are several reasons that contribute to this situation – including abject poverty, poor education, local customs and oppressive beliefs on girls.
Poor family upkeep and general social decay, unaccountability and poor guardianship from parents are mentioned as other regions.
Others are gender bases violence (GBV), adolescence pressures and inadequate dormitories in schools
He said the region has in place strategies to ensure every village has a primary school and a secondary school for every ward to reduce long distances students walk for their lessons as some adults and youths use the opportunity to deceive girl students.
Rukwa Region has 59 villages without primary schools and 25 wards without secondary schools – the situation that compels students to walk very long distances for their lessons.
The Nkansi district commissioner saidi Mtanda called on government functionaries at district level to stop the habit of concealing statistics on school girls pregnancies as by so doing the strategies will never be fully implemented.
He said if they are forthright, they will greatly assist Africare, Plan International and Jhpiego – NGOs implementing Safe Birth Project in the region – in the eradication of the problem.