FRANCISTOWN: Mayor Godisang Radisigo has expressed worry over the escalation of child abuse cases in the second city which have partly been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic control measures.
Briefing the city council on Monday in a virtual meeting he said actions taken to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic such as school closure and movement restrictions have had an impact on the children well-being and contributed to abuse.
Radisigo revealed that during the previous quarter ending June 2021, they registered 18 cases of defilement whilst for this period they registered a total of 25 cases which is an increase to 38 percent.
“It has been established that most of these cases happen when schools are closed. So far two out of the 25 children are pregnant which will have a negative impact on their education,” he said.
He emphasized that actions taken to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic have increased the threat to the safety and well-being of children.
Radisigo also expressed fear over the Covid-19 pandemic saying that it threatens to wipe out previous gains made by government on human capital development as the country struggles to contain the virus, save lives and at the same time building the economy.
On a positive note he said schools in his district continue to follow Covid-19 protocols very well and have monitoring tools in place to manage the pandemic. He also said it is pleasing to note that national inspections were carried out through out the country to ascertain schools’ readiness before re-opening and the feedback received was positive.
“Three days were dedicated for vaccination of teachers and non-teaching staff from both government and non-government schools. The vaccination level of teachers at public schools is at 85 percent whilst at private schools is at 92.9 percent” he said.
He further expressed disappointment as learning in schools was disrupted by Covid-19 prevalence when a significant number of teachers were either in isolation or quarantined. The mid -year examinations could also not be written as usual due to emergency closure of schools on the 16th of July 2021.
“Nevertheless, the examinations will be written at the beginning of term three especially for completing classes to gauge the quality of candidates in order to close the gaps before the final examinations,” he said.
Radisigo also expressed concern over shortage of textbooks in both primary and secondary schools mainly due to budget limitations. He however said in an effort to fast-track procurement, secondary schools have since been provided with funds to procure books for themselves and a new initiative has been launched to provide e-books for all form four learners in 2022. This will align with the slogan “Producing a 21st Century Learners” The initiative will further address loss of textbooks as well as their wear and tear.
“I urge parents to assist in monitoring handling of textbooks by their children and also with replacement for those lost so that stock levels can be maintained for future learners,” Radisigo said.