Chiefs from the area of Traditional Authority (TA) Changata in Thyolo District have started imposing fines for parents of school drop-outs in a bid to enhance girl’s education.
Mary Bwetule from Muwalo village said she was fined by a local chief after her adolescent boy impregnated a fellow teenage girl.
“I received a letter from our village headman saying that my son who was in Standard 8 had impregnated a girl who had since dropped out of school,” she said.
“I was fined K15,000 and a goat and the girls’ parents were also given the same penalty.”
Bwetule said she did not see any problem with the penalty because the community by-laws were formulated in order to promote girls education in the area.
Speaking at Malosa primary school at a two-day girls’ retreat for female primary and secondary school students, Creative Centre for Community Mobilisation (Creccom) Programme Manager Linice Sanga said the by-laws were formulated with contribution from adolescent girls, community members and different stakeholders in the district.
“The community by-laws were formulated in order to address high rate of school dropout among adolescent girls due to child marriages and teenage pregnancies,” she said.
Sanga said the imposing of fines is a clear message by traditional leaders to community members that such kind of cases will not be overlooked anymore.
“This is an alarm that is going out to different community members that if they condone such kind of practices there are consequences that the boy and the girl is to face as well as the families of both the girl and the boy,” she added.
Creccom is implementing Empowering Girls through Education (EGE) project in TA Changata in order to address challenges that adolescent girls and teen mothers face in the course of going back and remaining in school.
The project is being funded by Rise Up under the Public Health Institute (IPI).