Govt distributing poor quality sanitary wear to schools

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education has noted with concern the poor quality of reusable pads supplied by the government at schools as they do not meet menstrual hygiene standards.

The committee noted that some schools received panty liners instead of pads.

The government initiated the free sanitary wear in rural schools last year as part of the efforts to assist children from disadvantaged families who are losing out on valuable learning due to their menstrual cycles.

Government had reportedly set aside ZWL $500 million for the programme which was meant to start in rural schools before expanding to cover urban learning institutions.

Presenting the report in Parliament last week, the Chairperson of the portfolio committee on Primary and Secondary Education, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga said the Committee established that the programme for sanitary wear distribution to rural schools was available in some schools while in other schools it was not available.

“However, the Committee found out that some of the sanitary pads supplied by the Government were of poor quality and could not meet menstrual hygiene standards,” said Misihairabwi-Mushonga.

She said in some instances the pads were not in sufficient quantities to meet the demand.

“In Masvingo, at Mukore High School, it was revealed that the school had received panty liners instead of pads, while in Chegutu, at Bosbury High School, the pads received were of poor quality, all from the provincial offices,” said Misihairabwi-Mushonga.

“In certain instances, the kids were not even aware that there were sanitary pads available within the school. In the Northern region, students expressed mixed views, some were aware of the programme at school whilst others were not.”

She added that “Most schools had appointed a senior female teacher to be responsible for the distribution of sanitary wear. The sanitary wear available was disposal”.

“In addition to that, the Committee was disturbed that some of the learners confessed ignorance of the availability of sanitary pads in schools and therefore did not have access,” said Misihairabwi-Mushonga.

Meanwhile, the Committee also noted with concern that the distribution process of the sanitary wear was not done properly resulting in some schools receiving while others did not receive anything in 2020.

“In some schools, the learners were benefiting from the donor community and have not received any sanitary wear from the Government,” she said.

The portfolio committee on Primary and Secondary education passed recommendations that the Ministry should centralise the procurement of sanitary wear immediately so as to ensure uniformity in the product and also benefit from economies of scale since it is cheaper to procure more (national tender versus provincial tender).

Source: Centre for Innovoation and Technology (CITE)