The Daily Monitor yesterday reported that “activists” protested the suspension of pregnant girls of Barham University because it was a violation of their “reproductive rights”. The protest may be okay but it may also be helpful if the whole episode is looked at against a background of other considerations.
Rights, as we may all know, are not absolute and all rights go with responsibilities. Going by that alone, one may ask whether it was being responsible of the girls to decide to become pregnant at the same time as they pursued their studies.
The activists should know that learning institutions usually set rules and regulations with intention to help learners achieve their goals with least distractions and interruptions. Would pregnancy, with all its related challenges, be the best state for the girls to be in for them to study well?
Part of the tasks in education institutions is to inculcate discipline in the learners.
Discipline is essentially about self-control and self-control is largely about one being able to resist irrational decisions and to postpone gratification to an appropriate and convenient time. By allowing these girls not only to engage in sex but unprotected sex, shall we be helping them grow up as responsible citizens?
Usually, when learners are being admitted educational institutions, they are made to sign the institutions’ rules and regulations, pledging their consent to follow them as stipulated. I suppose the said university adheres to this sound practice.
By suspending the students, the university intended to punish the girls. Punishment serves the dual role of being corrective and a deterrent. The culprits punished are helped to know and learn that, one, what they did was wrong and two, that irresponsible behaviour has a price to pay in real life. If they get another chance, they will be more careful with life.
This punishment will play a deterrent role to the other students in the university and many will have to consider the consequences before treading where their colleagues trod.
Finally, I wish to say that I am also a human rights activist but of a different brand. I am of the brand that preaches human rights that is not absolute and human rights that go with responsibilities. It is the brand of ‘activism’ as reported in the said article that has cast human rights work in bad light, earning the practice such accusations as being ‘child spoilers’.