Anita and Luyando: 2 Zambian teenagers overcame the obstacles to return to school after giving birth
When Anita and Luyando got pregnant in 2017, the multiple challenges they faced seemed insurmountable. Anita was 14 at the time and Luyando was 17. They both had to stop going to school and their future was compromised. This situation generated intense stress for them and their family. Nevertheless, Anita had immense potential and never stopped dreaming about having a good career: “I want to be a nurse, I would like to learn new skills and care for others”. Luyando also wanted to follow her dream, she wanted to be a soldier, a unique profession for a girl. They both knew the importance of getting an education to achieve their dreams, but having to care for a child so young, this dream seemed out of reach.
UNESCO is supporting young girls, like Anita and Luyando, to get back to school after giving birth. When a girl's education is cut short, the impact can be felt for generations, it leaves a vital gap in their community and their country. UNESCO is advocating for those girls to go back to school while empowering young people to stay healthy and reach their full potential through comprehensive sexuality education (CSE).
UNESCO partnered with SAFAIDS to support the Re-entry Policy in the Ministry of Education in Zambia which supports girls who drop out of school due to pregnancy to return to school after giving birth and continue with their education. Thanks to this common effort, Anita and Luyando were both able to go back to school in 2020 and continue their education.
Anita is 18 years old now and her baby boy is 4 years old, they both live in Mazabuka. She is currently in Grade 12 at Haachipilika Secondary school. Luyando is 20 and she lives in Siavonga with her 3-years old boy and is currently in Grade 12 in the same school. They both overcame the obstacles and continued their education.
In the past two years, Haachipilika Secondary school has managed to help over 20 girls return to school with support from UNESCO and SAFAIDS.
This work is part of UNESCO worldwide effort to support the 118.5 million girls who are out of school globally. UNESCO works to ensure that every girl continues learning and returns to school. After reaching over 400 million people globally, UNESCO rolled out the “Keeping girls in the picture” campaign in national contexts, reaching deep into communities through local advocacy, mobilizing youth networks and working with community radios.
Girls' education is one of the most powerful investments we can make for our collective future. The ripple effect of positive change that occurs when a girl gets an education is amazing. It strengthens economies, reduces inequality and creates more opportunities for everyone to succeed.
Join the campaign to ensure #LearningNeverStops
Everyone can play a role in supporting girls’ education – whether you’re a teacher, parent, student, journalist, policymaker, or simply a concerned citizen. Here’s how you can join the campaign to ensure #LearningNeverStops.
Credit article and photos: UNESCO, SAFAIDS, ZAMISE and Ministry of Education Zambia.