What you need to know:
- Many girls were defiled and impregnated during the lockdown.
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) operating in Bukedi Sub-region in the districts of Pallisa, Kibuku, Budaka and Butebo have urged schools to subject learners to mandatory pregnancy tests to ascertain the rate of teenage pregnancies.
The CSOs recommendation was arrived at during a meeting, which was organised by Action Aid with funding from Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) in Pallisa Town Council at the weekend.
Mr Francis Okirror, a field officer at Citizen Initiative for Democracy and Development, said mandatory pregnancy tests are necessary so that those found pregnant can be supported and counselled to stay in school.
Mr Okirror said the rate of teenage pregnancies and forced marriages in the sub-region has been on the raise since the lockdown was imposed in March to control the spread of coronavirus.
“Many girls were defiled and impregnated during the lockdown and for sure among the female candidates, who have returned to their respective schools, some are pregnant but the schools have not ascertained that yet,” he said.
Mr Moses Kaggwa, a field officer, working with Pallisa Civil Society Organisation, said government should make it a policy that adolescent girls are subjected to mandatory pregnancy tests.
“The girls should undergo pregnancy testing at every beginning and end of every academic term. This will discourage young girls from engaging in early sex,” he said.
For instance, some school heads in Kibuku District, told Daily Monitor that a half of the number of Primary Seven pupils have been impregnated and have failed to report back.
Mr Samuel Kyaide, the Kibuku Uganda National Teachers’ Union chairperson, said about 150 to 200 girls have been impregnated in the district.
“The teenage pregnancy rate in the district is extremely high and is on the increase due to parents’ failure to play their roles during the lockdown,” he said.
Mr Moses Mudidiri, the head teacher of Kibuku Senior Secondary School, said about 20 girls from his school were impregnated.
“I am aware that about 20 girls are pregnant and may not come back to school, although the ministry has given a green light for them to report and study,” he said.
Mr Christopher Wamika, the Kibuku District Education Officer (DEO), said they are on ground engaging different stakeholders on mandatory pregnancy tests at schools.
However, the acting Pallisa DEO, Ms Agnes Lukendo, said the exercise has financial implications, which require procurement of testing kits and other logistics.
“The idea of mandatory pregnancy testing in schools is so good but needs collective efforts from different key players and financial support,” she said.
The district health officer, Dr Godfrey Mulekwa, said manpower is available to carry out the exercise but they need to be facilitated.
“We are ready to partner with the education department in executing this exercise but we need to be facilitated in different forms,” he said.