Shamazubaula Stephen is a human rights activist with an interest in adolescent health. He is currently working as a Health Program M&E Research biased Intern for Churches Health Association of Zambia specialising in Adolescent Girls Accessing Prevention Education (AGAPE) and Malaria Elimination Unit of the Health Programs Department.
There has been a rise in media coverage about teenage pregnancy in Zambia. One of the immediate consequences of teenage pregnancies is school dropout. In the long term, dropping out of school contributes to the increase in inequality between men and women in terms of the economy and the number of people employed compared to those living in poverty.
Furthermore, it is often the case with unplanned pregnancies and the girls are left to face parenting alone without support from the father.
The complicated nature of teenage pregnancy in Zambia is especially prominent in rural areas.
Issues such as Poverty, Peer pressure, desire for high lifestyle, distance from school and also lack of knowledge about contraceptives coupled with lack of communications between the parents and children over sexually related issues are the main causes of teenage pregnancy among schoolgirls.
The birth of a child is an event that creates joy, celebration, and astonishment. However, this is is not always representative of the feelings of girls expecting and giving birth to a child as a result of unintended teenage pregnancies.
I have been observing the heated debate between the Ministry of General Education (MoGE) and the Ministry of Health (MOH)/Other Health Non-Governmental Organisation operating in the health sector over issues to do with Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health (ASRH) especially when it comes to sex, contraceptives, distribution of condoms and also just general health talks on sexual intercourse. The two ministries are seeming to differ in the way they want to approach the matter.
The introduction of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in the Ministry of General Education (MoGE) is just one way of trying to reduce the discrepancy that exists between the ministries. However, the way CSE is being implemented by integrating it into other subjects does not seem to be making enough progress on the issue.
Many teachers have called for CSE to be a its own subject that will be examined. Teachers say that the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC) need to prepare a separate subject that will help enrich the understanding of ASRH by teenagers in school.
I agree with those who are calling for CSE to be it’s own subject because it is more beneficial to the pupils. We can’t pretend that these teenagers are not engaging in sexual intercourse. We need to invest in lasting solutions including giving them the correct information that will help them make informed decisions. Let’s give those who are sexually active condoms and other contraceptives to protect them from both the pregnancy and diseases.