What you need to know:
- The issue: Schools reopening
- Our view: A concrete strategy is needed to ensure that head teachers, parents and teachers of pregnant teens know how to handle this delicate issue in a way that does not put the welfare of the young people at risk, either through depriving them of an education or jeopardising the health of mothers and their unborn children.
Schools reopened this week, with many challenges, including rundown schools, those that have been sold off, low attendance or no students turning up on the opening day.
During the long Covid-19 closure, our lives changed, children went to work, parents became accustomed to having their children around all the time and teachers went into business for themselves.
Now that the long closure has come to an end, there are several emerging issues. We need a concerted effort by government and civil society to deal with the effects of the long absence from school.
On the surface, not all the effects are necessarily bad. Children acquired other skills outside academics and some of them even started business or earned money during the extended vacation.
However, now that the students must return to the set routine, parents need to be equipped to cope with cases where children are unwilling to return to school or are unable to cope with the demands of school, now that their mind-set has changed or they have much more to occupy them and school seems the least attractive of all the options.
Some children were a source of labour and some parents and communities might loath to let them go, even though we all know that it is important to get an education.
Schools being opened will take much getting used to, including the necessity for a massive readjustment in work schedules of parents. Perhaps this is why the scientists voted for the removal of curfew, otherwise, it might have been impossible for anyone to leave school and drive, ride or walk home in time.
Chief of the problems that have occurred during the lockdown is the increase in the rates of teenage pregnancy.
The pregnant teens find themselves in the eye of the storm after the Anglican bishop of Mukono directed that pregnant students stay away from church schools until they have given birth.
As the debate rages on, a concrete strategy is needed to ensure that head teachers, parents and teachers of pregnant teens know how to handle this delicate issue in a way that does not put the welfare of the young people at risk, either through depriving them of an education or jeopardising the health of mothers and their unborn children.
A comprehensive assessment is needed, which will guide our actions in future, should a similar situation occur.