On the 26th December 2019, IThemba for Girls Trust (IGT) launched their program in the Mutasa District by holding a Community Engagement Meeting at Samaringa Secondary School. Approximately 60 people attended the community engagement meeting including two Members of Parliament representing the Mutasa Central and Mutasa South constituencies.
The purpose of the meeting was to introduce IGT’s purpose and vision to the community as well as proffer an understanding of IGT’s intended work of ensuring that marginalized girls in rural areas are given platforms that enhance their ability to complete their education. The organization also held an open dialogue session with the community regarding issues challenging girls’ advancement to their education and the causes behind the high dropout rates reported nationwide.
During the engagement participants agreed that girls in Mutasa District had many challenges on their journey hindering their access to education. Highlighted most as a major contributor to the dropout rates of girls in their community was teenage pregnancies.
Additional contributors to girl dropout rates identified were:
- Poverty, which has affected girls’ access to education in various ways such as:
- girls are lured by men using small food items for sexual favours, and
- some parents face financial problems in educating girls.
- Patriarchy and cultural gender roles were identified as further contributors as there is an expectation in rural communities that girls perform household chores. An example highlighted was that girls are expected to fetch water for household consumption from afar before and after school. This ultimately affects not only their performance but their interest in their education as a whole.
- Additionally, male teachers have been identified as culprits as they abuse educational positions and engage in sexual relations with school girls.
IGT ended the day with a sponsored Netball Tournament that involved 4 community women’s teams participating in a round robin. The tournament is part of IGT’s campaign of finding proactive ways of bringing women together in an effort to unite them in dealing with community’s socio-economic problems and finding lasting solutions to the present crisis gripping the dropout rates of girls from school.
Source: IThemba for Girls Trust