Natasha is a Grade 11 student at PEAS Kampinda Secondary School in Zambia. Since her enrolment, she has been so happy with her experience at the school thanks to all of the support she has received after falling pregnant and giving birth to her baby.
“The coming of the PEAS school really made it easier for many parents to send their children to secondary school” she says. This is due to the zero fees for day students. The walk to school for Natasha was an hour and a half. This meant that when she fell pregnant the long distance would soon become impossible to complete in her condition.
This led to Natasha dropping out of school and thinking that she had come to the end of her education. Even though the Zambian government introduced a re-entry policy to school for girls who have dropped out due to pregnancy, most find it difficult to go back to their studies because of the stigma that is attached within the school environment.
Luckily for Natasha this was not the case. All of our PEAS schools are proactively inclusive and everyone at her school, including her peers, encouraged Natasha to come back when she was ready to continue her education. “The school has really supported and encouraged me to work hard, my classmates help me to catch up with the topics I missed when I wasn’t in school.”
The national dropout rate for girls in Zambia is over double what it is for boys. At PEAS it is important that we resolve this problem by encouraging girls like Natasha to return to their studies. We have a specific focus on enrolling over 50% girls and helping them succeed.
Her mother and family members have also given amazing support by taking care of her baby whilst she is at school, “my mother always encourages me to study hard since I have the chance to go back to school” Natasha expresses.
Education is key to the improving the lives of young women and their children in countries where poverty is widespread. One additional school year can increase a woman’s earnings by 10% to 20%.
“I would like to thank PEAS, for this school is one of its kind. May the almighty bless PEAS for the wonderful works they are doing through the schools.”
Natasha’s story shows us how important it is to encourage and support young women back into education in order to develop their potential and improve their lives.