The digestion process of a cow is the stuff of legends.Cows it is said have four stomachs which help break down difficult materials like grass. The first time it eats , its just enough to allow for swallowing. The food is stored in the multiple stomachs to be stored and later regurgitated. This process of bringing back food or swallowing as it is can be aptly titled ruminating or chewing the curd.
Poverty has an amazing resemblance to curd. It seems to undergo it’s own processes of digestion yet alas it comes back to be wholly unswallowed and returned back in the stomach totally ruminated. It is a curd of sorts. The curd of poverty l call it.
It sounds unkind but how else does one explain its continuous cycle that seems to come back. Zimbabwe recently amended the Education bill and has put in a number of progress elements in this bill. However one of those elements does not settle down well with me. Why one would ask-the amendment is clearly a heads up in the emancipation of young women and girls in giving them equal opportunities when faced with the grim realities of pregnancy. Yes it does give rights to continue school despite pregnancy.Indeed no one should have to leave school because of pregnancy but herein lies my disillusionment with this provision. I have seen first hand how early pregnancy plays into the nexus of poverty and development.Early pregnancy contributes to poverty greatly. It is part of the curd of poverty.
I am sure they meant well in putting this clause but my reading is that it should have come with a qualification of the kind of circumstances allowing for one to continue in school despite being pregnant. YES those with the means and resources will celebrate and say it is progressive -but is it really?Are we not creating an environment for unsustainable pregnancies which will only increase the curd of poverty.
Let me break it down a little bit. l leave in a rural area , l work with young people especially girls in these rural areas. Going to school with the right amenities and resources is a tall order. The poverty in these areas means that such opportunities are only once in a life time. Mind you, the bill says the state has a responsibility towards basic education and not secondary education both for the young and adults. Parents struggle to send the children to school and some of these children when they reach exam level struggle to find the examination fees and have to rely on programs like ours to help them register for examination as government can only do so much. A lot fail to write and thence begin that process of tragedy -in this day and age where does one get a job without basic O’level. The resources and amneties so limited that those who are able to pay have a daunting task to pass. It is one day when we had an opportunity to pay school fees for some young people and we were looking at whom to pay for. It was sad that those with paid fees were those on BEAM and other students from an organisation working with young people as ours-the rest of the students had not paid fees for years. I left petrified.What does the future hold for our young in rural areas ? Surely when there are such struggles already, how then does one think adding the burden of pregnancy and a young one will make the school process easier and the poverty food security nexus easier. Our resources in our nation are limited and safety nets for young people have dwindled and the curd of poverty continues unabated. When l look at it as an educationist and social changemaker this part of the piece of legislation by its broad nature has not made the challenges that young people better but it could be the catalyst for an implosion and an increase of the curd of poverty.
If the provision of Post Exposure resources are made available in this country to victims of rape and violence and those in the medical field the same should have been adjudicated to the prevalence of pregnancy. Why such a blanket antidote. Had post exposure medicines (PEP)been made available to the general public it is quite clear that irresponsible sexual behaviour would be prevalent in our country in the full knowledge that an immediate solution against HIV/AIDS is available. It is in the same vein that by creating a blanket acceptance of all pregnancies in school we are letting our young people know that it is okey to engage in sexual activity without the consequences of losing a spot in school. So go ahead make merry and make babies we are saying.
It is not a popular assertion but the implosion shall be staggering.It is just a matter of time.