GOVERNMENT will not distribute condoms in schools until sufficient evidence is provided to prove that it can reduce teenage pregnancies.
Education Deputy Minister David Mabumba said in Lusaka yesterday that Government would not distribute condoms to school going children because reproductive health activists had not justified their effectiveness in reducing teenage pregnancies and early marriages.
“Government is not distributing condoms in schools. We have heard the call on the same issue but we cannot do that until evidence is given to prove that it will work,” he said.
Mr Mabumba was speaking at a high level consultative meeting on challenges and opportunities of adolescent girls in Zambia organised by the World Bank.
He revealed that Government had put in place measures to address the problems of teenage pregnancies and early marriages.
The re-entry policy for girls that fell pregnant while attending school was one of the measures. Another step taken was the re-introduction of early education countrywide especially in rural areas.
Youth and Sport Minister Vincent Mwale said Zambia was lagging behind on the policy to introduce or not to introduce condoms in schools.
Mr. Mwale said it was unfortunate that not all non-governmental organizations (NGOs) agreed on access to condoms for school going children.
He said the matter was under debate for more than a decade now and NGOs had not provided sufficient evidence to show that advantages outweighed the disadvantages in Zambia.
The messages on sex for adolescents, Mr. Mwale said, should be the same in school and in the community to achieve proper results.
The two ministers were responding to an appeal from an adolescent who started engaging in sex at 14-years-old and fell pregnant at 18-years-old.
The girl said it was important for Government to facilitate easy access to condoms, contraceptives and reproductive health information in schools in order to prevent pregnancies among school going girls.
Meanwhile, Chief Chibesakunda has called on chiefs to embrace the positive traditions that deterred youths from engaging in sex.
He said village gatherings, like ‘Insaka and Ichibwanse’, that pondered issues and passed resolutions should be reignited.
Chief Chibesakunda said high poverty levels should be addressed in order to reduce teenage pregnancies in rural areas.