Daily Monitor I #N24NewsUpdates – Ministry of Education officials and political leaders disagreed at a breakfast meeting on Tuesday on whether to allow pregnant girls at school.
Ms Rosette Nanyanzi, the technical advisor on gender in the Ministry of Education, told the meeting that they want pregnant girls to continue their studies.
She urged schools to help such girls to access antenatal care till they deliver and also allow them sit final examinations.
She said this is in accordance with the ministry’s new guidelines on prevention and management of HIV/AIDs, retention of pregnant girls and re-entry of child mothers in schools.
“Like it is the case always for the young fathers to continue with their education, especially after impregnating the girl child, it should also apply to the girls,” Ms Nanyanzi said.
She added that pregnancy among school girls has been worsened by the lockdown instituted to curb the spread of Covid-19.
However, some political leaders at the meeting, organised by the Ministry of Education, objected.
Mr Kenneth Lubogo, the Bulamogi County MP, said although pregnant girls have a right to stay in school, it poses a moral dilemma.
“Stopping a pregnant girl child from continuing with school is not a punishment. This serves to teach the rest that what she got herself into was not good at an early age,” he said.
“The best I can do as a parent if my child got pregnant at school, is discontinue her first, orient and help her go for antenatal check-ups. After birth she has to breastfeed the baby and when she is ready to go back to school, I take her back,” said Ms Akello Lucy, the Amuru District Woman MP said.
“First and foremost monitoring the feeding of these pregnant girls in school may be difficult. Is the Ministry of Education ready to meet the alternative balanced diets for these girls yet some schools still have restrictions on what kind of food you are supposed to carry for children in school?” she queried.
“The new guidelines seem to burden the schools yet they have little to do with children engaging in early sex. The guidelines should spell out who is taking on which responsibility,” she added.
Bunya County East MP, Mr Waira Majegere warned that the new guidelines are likely to turn schools into antenatal centres given the ministry’s suggestion to have health teams and counsellors to assist the pregnant girls at school.
The legislators also want the Ministry to come up with an affirmative action to banish from teaching, the teachers who engage in sexual activities with students. They said this would deter others who want to take the same path.
In 2016, Ministry of Education conducted a study on linkages between pregnancy and school dropout among 2,147 girls from 173 schools in 13 districts. The study established that more than 76 per cent of the girls had dropped out of school before transitioning to secondary and 54 per cent had engaged in early sex.
According to the study, the highest factor driving young girls into early sex was the need for material benefits, especially for those from poor families and this accounted for 38 per cent.
Article 30 of the Uganda Constitution says all persons have a right to education.