One of the 14 girls was in her second pregnancy, something that has raised concern among leaders in the area.
The magnitude of pregnancies happening in the region are alarming have raised alarm with stakeholders calling for stiff action against those who impregnate pupils.
According to Mbwana Bwatah, area children officer many parents make local arrangements to have those who have defiled their daughters marry them and only try to seek assistance when the arrangement fails.
Bwatah noted that most children in the area are still out of school despite the introduction of free primary education.
He added that school dropout rate in Kikoneni is high and attributes the problem to early pregnancies, early marriages, child labour and poverty.
“School dropout in Kikoneni is rampant and this is due to early pregnancies and marriages that lead to child labour and poverty,” explained Bwatah.
He urged chiefs and their assistants to cooperate with the Children’s Department in the area to have parents who violate children’s rights by keeping them out of school charged in court.
He noted that majority of the children who are out of school are girls adding that the district has registered a dismal enrolment of girls in school.
He blamed historical, cultural and religious beliefs for hindering the girl child from getting education.
“Cultural and religious beliefs are hindering the girl-child from getting education. Most of them are forced to marry early so that the parents can get money to cater for the school fees for the boy child,” Bwatah explained.
He observed that the anomaly can only be corrected once the government allocates enough funds to help needy students to avoid dropping out of school.
He blamed parents for failing to ensure that their children attend school regularly to be able to compete with other children in the academics and job market.
“Many parents have infringed on the rights of their children by not taking them to school to benefit from free primary education and serious measures must be taken against parents who violate the right of educating their children,” he said.
Bwatah lamented that while most children are in school, some are seen in trading centres selling groundnuts and maize as others sell second hand clothes.
Some parents have not embraced free primary education which they consider a luxury given the harsh socio-economic conditions and prevailing poverty in the area.
Bwatah asked the stakeholders to implement policies which allow school participation not only among the girl child but also their male counterparts.
This article was originally published in the Reject Online Issue 93