A grade 9 learner from Omaheke region over a week ago gave birth in a basin inside the dormitory room.
The 18-year-old had allegedly concealed her pregnancy to her friends, family and teachers before giving birth in the early hours of 10 October 2021 at Epako High School in Gobabis.
According to her roommates, time and again they asked her if she was pregnant, as they noticed the body changes, but she never admitted to being pregnant.
“Every time we asked her if she was pregnant, she would cry; even the last Friday to her delivery, we asked but she said she is fine,” said a fellow learner.
The girl is said to have started tummy-related pains on 8 October but told others it is diarrhoea.
On Saturday night, at around 22h00, she appeared restless and started complaining of stomachaches.
“Around 03h00 in the morning, the pains seemed to have escalated; her groanings woke us up – and this time, we suggested we seek help from the LRCs, but she insisted that it is nothing serious, and that it would soon go away,” narrated the roommate.
“We did not know what was happening because we were still sleepy, and the lights were off. Eventually, we realised that she is rolling on the floor – and when she gets up, she would pace between the bathroom and her bed.”
The learner told others that she wanted to relieve herself badly but “nothing was coming out”.
“Eventually, she started squatting in the washing basin inside the room whenever the urge to ease herself came – but every time, there was nothing coming, and she would go back to the bed. Around this time, we were half asleep due to the constant disturbance from her movements and sounds that she made. The pacing continued – and again we asked if we should call for help but she refused. We then said she should move the basin closer to her bed, and she complied,” narrated one of the pupils.
“In no time, she screamed three times, followed by a sound of something dropping down, then a baby cried; it was then that we jumped to switch the light on. Confused, terrified and panicking, we did not know what to do. We screamed in fear and cried. Our screams woke the other learners, who then called for help. She remained in a squatting position, and the baby kept crying in the basin – but the hostel staff acted swiftly and assisted her by cutting the umbilical cord before rushing her to the hospital.”
Principal Dorcas Ndokosho said what happened at her school could have been avoided had the teenager not concealed the pregnancy.
“It is very risky for learners to keep pregnancies to themselves because, at their ages, they may give birth before the ninth month,” Ndokosho.
The principal said the school has internally decided to release pregnant learners at seven months just so they are on the safe side.
She further urged learners to approach the Life Skills teachers, who are at their disposal to receive the counselling and guidance they may need.
Queried on the pregnancy management policy, education inspector Katunavandu Kavari said the policy speaks more to abstinence to avoid pregnancies – but in the case where pregnancies are detected, it enables the school to manage them.
“The problem we have is that some parents do not communicate pregnancies. This leaves us to assume and act on suspicions – and in the event where a learner concealed a pregnancy, then risky scenarios like this are most likely to happen,” said Kavari.
According to Ndokosho, the school has since August identified 22 pregnant learners in various stages, with some at seven months.
Between January and July this year, 51 schoolgirls fell pregnant in the Omaheke region.
Four of those were in primary schools.
The education ministry earlier announced that about 3 323 schoolgirls fell pregnant during the March-July 2020 Covid-19 lockdown.