Teenage pregnancy: Activists ask govt to implement sexuality education

The sight of expectant teenagers in the eastern district of Kibuku can easily help one make sense of the country’s challenge of teenage pregnancy currently standing at 25 per cent.

What you need to know:

  • The appeal comes four months after the High Court in Kampala, in a ruling in November last year, directed the Education Ministry to quickly develop and implement the comprehensive sexuality education policy for learners.

Civil society organisations have appealed to the government to expedite the implementation of sexuality education, saying it will be essential in curbing teenage pregnancies in the country and preventing HIV/AIDS spread.

The appeal comes four months after the High Court in Kampala, in a ruling in November last year, directed the Education Ministry to quickly develop and implement the comprehensive sexuality education policy for learners.

The government had prior to banning the teaching of sexuality education in schools, said it stumbled on sexual reproductive health books in more than 100 schools that included “unacceptable” content on sexual orientation.

Addressing journalists today in Kampala, Mr Moses Mubiru, the executive director of Uganda Young Positives, the organisation that brings together young people with HIV, said that sexuality education will equip young girls with information and empower them to make informed decisions.

“Our girls in schools and those at home are facing a lot of challenges because there is no mainstreaming of information that goes to them -information about sexual and gender-based violence, how to overcome challenges that are posed by their sexuality,” he said.

He added: “We call upon the government through this campaign to implement sexuality education to equip girls with information so that they avoid early pregnancy and sexual violence.”

A total of 290,219 teenage pregnancies were recorded in Uganda from January to September 2021, translating to over 32,000 monthly, likely to surpass numbers in 2020 by end of the year, according to a 2021 report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). 

The Ministry of Education has ordered schools to allow pregnant or breastfeeding learners to continue with education amidst other sensitisation on the dangers of early engagement in sex. 

Mr Mubiru was one of the activists who spoke at the launch of the “Hear her cry” campaign which aims at stirring government into action and “end all forms of violence against women and girls.”

The campaign is spearheaded by Uganda Network on Law Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET) and The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO).

A joint statement by the activists, the government should “decisively look at the cases [of sexual and gender-based violence] that have been reported and ensure that perpetrators of these crimes are brought to book.”

“State actors should create an enabling environment through the implementation of legislation that protects the rights of women and girls,” the statement reads in part.

The activists also asked the women to view “themselves as an asset for development for economic growth of a country.”

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