I would like to applaud the writer for the constructive engagement, though done selectively, thus trying to reduce my article to a non-issue. As individuals, we are always entitled to our opinions but facts are universal.
It’s my strong conviction that the suitability of any policy including this one cannot be determined by the policy makers themselves but by the implementers on the ground. This is because policy drafters live in the theoretical world while the people live in the real and practical world.
We should face the truth as it may help us, as a nation, a country and a people to make informed judgements. I wish the writer could have taken time to go and assess the situation on the ground rather than defending and praising the policy based on its paperwork.
It takes courage and boldness to admit one’s own shortcomings, thus the writer has come in full force in the defence of the policy. The writer’s response is found lacking in so many aspects as it mainly centres around the issue of sending the pregnant learners home and she ignores other alternatives put forth in my letter to address the problem.
It must be understood that the flexibility of the policy that the writer stresses entirely exists on paper whilst on the ground the majority of pregnant learners opt to stay in school despite their different conditions and advising them to leave school may be seen as infringing on their rights to education.
My call to send the pregnant learners home should not only be seen in a bad light but should be seen as an opportunity for those learners to take a break, concentrate on their pregnancies, recover emotionally and physically and return back to school will full vigour and determination to pursue their academic dreams.
I am surprised that the writer tries to put her arguments through leaning on a sensitive issue namely forced sex and gave some statistics of learners who had fallen pregnant because of that evil deeds and asked whether they deserve another punishment.
The writer is well versed in gender and law related issues but arguing like that creates more questions than answers. I know that abortion is illegal in Namibia, yet it can be performed under strict medical supervision within the confines of the laws, which states that consent to abortion can only be given in cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is in danger. Hence, why should those learners who have fallen pregnant as a result of forced sex be allowed to carry pregnancies if there are alternatives given?
In the writer’s view, are those minors able to cope with their emotional trauma of being pregnant as a result of forced sex, cope with their academic work, cope with travelling long distances for non-boarders and the pressure of being in a class of naughty learners? We are not realistic here.
The writer’s arguments that forcing pregnant learners to stay home for a year will increase baby dumping is far-fetched since there are many women implicated in this crime who are non- students. It’s very unfortunate that the writer has not shared with the readers the actions taken regarding the perpetrators who had raped minors on stats shown.
I hate crime. I fight against it and I respect gender equality. Let us look at this policy from all angles as we strive to achieve the academic success of a female Namibian child. It is a policy that should be looked at beyond Windhoek perspectives to consider a pregnant learner deep in a remote village who travels seven or eight kilometres to school; a pregnant learner in whose village there is no nearest health centre and who lives below the breadline.
Salomo Mekondjo Nambinga