What you need to know:
- The bishop insists that pregnant girls are bad examples to other learners.
The Mukono Diocese Bishop, the Rt Rev James Williams Ssebaggala, has advised parents whose girls are either pregnant or breastfeeding to take them elsewhere but not in church-founded schools.
Speaking at his office in Mukono Town yesterday, Bishop Ssebaggala said the government policy to allow pregnant and breastfeeding learners in class is “not practical” but is “mere politicking”.
While addressing Christians of St Paul Church, Kanjuki in Kayunga District at the weekend, the cleric directed headteachers in the diocese not to allow pregnant and breastfeeding girls in class because it is morally degrading.
The bishop’s remarks have attracted wide condemnation from leaders and the public, who say the prelate’s directive is “not parental at all”.
The bishop’s directive contradicts the guidelines of the Ministry of Education and Sports to allow girls who got pregnant or gave birth during the lockdown to go back to school.
“I am not defying the government directive but what I am saying is that, what government is saying is not practical. Me as a religious leader who preaches the word of God and morals to Christians, I can’t support such a directive,” Bishop Ssebaggala said.
He added: “I advise parents with pregnant or breastfeeding girls to take them to other schools not in this diocese. There are many schools in the country that may be would accommodate them.”
He said religious leaders are called upon to be honest and straightforward unlike politicians.
“Pregnant and breastfeeding girls should not come to our schools let them sort their issues at home, we cannot allow such immoral behaviour,” the bishop stressed.
He said it is their policy not to allow pregnant girls, noting that they have been dismissing them from school and this must continue.
“A child does not only study or learn from class but she or he learns from fellow students, and by seeing and touching, so we cannot give a bad picture,” he added.
Mr Christopher Ssebaggala, the headteacher of Mukono Bishop East Primary School, said they would not allow any pregnant or bresatfeding girls in school or near the school gate.
The Buganda Kingdom chief for Kyaggwe County (Mukono, Buikwe and Buvuma districts), Mr Elijah Bogere, said religious leaders should be at the forefront to call for the education of pregnant or breastfeeding girls.
“Our religious leaders should act like parents. Everyone has been affected by Covid-19, even families. Many of these girls did not want to get pregnant,” Mr Bogere said.
He said at least 400 girls were impregnated during the lockdown in the area.
Rev Paul Bakaluba Mukasa, the Mukono District chairperson, said the bishop’s directive is a brain- teaser and a big lesson to all Ugandans.
“The bishop and government are both right on this matter, we need consultants to help us out of this situation,” Rev Bakaluba said.
The Mukono Chief Administrative Officer, Mr James Nkata, wondered how headteachers who are paid by government would fail to follow the government guidance.
Ms Alice Dhoya, the Kayunga District Education officer, said they are working on a plan to meet all stakeholders with a view of finding a solution.