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“Girls are still falling pregnant and are forced to drop out of school because they are not educated about family planning early enough.”

Olorato Bathoeng fell pregnant in 2015 at 17 years old, becoming one of a growing number of adolescent girls in Botswana who are forced to drop out of school because of unplanned pregnancies.

Wanting to be closer to home when she returned to school two years later, Olorato transferred to a different school, but was forced to put her hopes of going back to school on hold as there was no one to help look after her daughter.

“I stayed at home for one year doing nothing, sometimes I feel like I lost two years of my life.”

Never giving up on herself, she was finally able to return to school in 2018. Despite the challenges she was facing, Olorato remained determined to go back to school to achieve her dream of becoming a librarian. As one of the few girls who return to secondary school after having a child, Olorato acknowledges that it is not easy and that the fear of stigma keeps too many girls out of school.

Reflecting on the challenges she faced as a young mother, Olorato pleads for more to be done to help girls prevent unintended pregnancies. “Girls should be taught about family planning as early as Junior school (13-16 years old) rather than waiting until they get to Senior Secondary school where it will be very late for them.”