How ready are schools for girls who got pregnant during lockdown?

Teenage mothers with their babies in Teobia Village, Kole District, on November 16 last year. Thousands of school girls across the country will benefit from the drive to create awareness on sexual reproductive health. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • Most of these girls don’t know who is responsible and in circumstances where one knows, you find that it is a close relative behind the vice.

Learners in primary and secondary have returned to school after two years since the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
While releasing the school calendar on December 15, Ms Janet Museveni, the minister of Education, said girls who became pregnant during lockdown should be allowed to continue with their studies.

A section of schools this publication visited at the weekend said as much as they welcome the directive, it will be complicated.

“We have no problem with girls who delivered during lockdown but the challenge now will revolve around how to handle the pregnant girls,” Ms Idah Babina, the headteacher of Iganga Secondary School, said.

Ms Babina said the policy at their school states that if a girl conceives, she will be attended to at home until the time she delivers. 

Ms Oliva Nambi, the headteacher of Busoga High School in Kamuli, said although they are ready to receive these girls, but the situation will not be entirely smooth for them. “It is difficult not to rule out the stigmatisation they might face from some of their colleagues. That is why we have arranged special counselling sessions in case we receive any case,” Ms Nambi said.

She said she has also talked to teachers to be considerate and more understanding.

Ms Deborah Basekanakyo, the headteacher of Wanyange Girls Secondary School, in Jinja District said they would accommodate the girls.

“As long as the parents and guardians are willing to cooperate with us, we don’t see a reason why these girls should not be in school. We have a fully-fledged dispensary with a clinical officer and two nurses to handle these cases. In circumstances where they can’t handle a specific case, they will be doing referrals,”  Ms Basekanakyo said.

She added: “We will not be able to handle students with babies (at school) because we don’t have a daycare centre.”

Mirembe (not real name), 17, who is currently being rehabilitated at Wakisa Ministries, a pregnancy centre in Wakiso District, is one of the school-going girls who got pregnant during the lockdown.

She says she got pregnant after she was raped by her uncle in October 2020. “I told my mother about the incident months later after realising that I had missed my monthly periods,” she said.

The uncle denied the pregnancy. For this reason, Mirembe’s mother took on the responsibility. After she gave birth on May 22, 2021, her mother urged her to remain passionate about education.

“I am not going to allow this experience to spoil my future. I am going back to school,” she said.
Mirembe says the experience has taught her to never to trust people easily. 

The young mother is now joining Senior One under a scholarship programme awarded by Wakisa Ministries.

Ms Linda Tulina, a counselor at Naguru teenage and health centre, said on a daily basis, they have at least a new girl walking to the facility to seek their services.

“The men accountable are not willing to take on the responsibility. Then, there are those who don’t know (whose responsible) especially where there cases of rape or having more than one sexual partner,” she said.

“And, some parents are not supportive throughout the pregnancy because of anger and disappointment.”

Data from Naguru teenage and health centre shows that 3,411 teenagers attended antenatal care at the facility between 2020 and 2021.

Figures from United Nations Population Fund, a sexual and reproductive health agency, indicate that about 354,736 teenage pregnancies were registered in 2020 while 196,499 were recorded in the first six months of 2021.