Teenage mothers deserve second chance at school

Several parts of the country have reported a major increase in pregnancies during the Covid-19 era. PHOTO/FILE 

What you need to know:

  • The issue: Teenage pregnancies. 
  • Our view: It is the role of parents, guardians, community leaders and government to ensure that these girls get all the help they can to deliver safely and be ready to carry on with their studies as soon as they can.

While releasing Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) results last week, Education minister Janet Museveni said there was no clear date on when schools would reopen. This, she said, was pending a decision that will be made by Cabinet.

This has been the situation for the more than 15 million learners for more than a year now. In March 2020, President Museveni ordered the closure of all educational institutions, among other measures, to control the spread the Covid-19 pandemic that has so far infected more than 91,355 Ugandans and claimed more than 2,483 lives.

The President was again forced to close all schools and send learners home early last month as he announced a new 42-day total lockdown following a spike in Covid-19 cases and deaths. 

As we count down days to the end of the 42 days, the country anxiously awaits news about what next for the learners. This is because, besides some children losing out on learning completely for more than 15 months now, many girls have been victims of the pandemic.

This newspaper reported this week that Luweero Hospital alone recorded at least 1,388 teenage pregnancies between June 2020 and June 2021. Data gathered by this newspaper in March showed that Kitgum Diocese registered 3,430 teenage pregnancies between March and October 2020.

In Kabale District, 1,014 teenage pregnancies were recorded between January and September 2020; in Budaka, the District Health Officer said the rate of teenage pregnancy stood at 24.7 per cent. These are just some of the examples of the thousands of girls that could be suffering quietly.

Medical personnel at the different health facilities in Luweero, many of the teenage pregnancy cases captured by the system never report back for antenatal care. Meaning two things; either they are forced to get rid of the pregnancy, or resort to visiting traditional birth attendants.

Teenage pregnancies come with many challenges and these girls need to be monitored by health professionals.
The best option would have been to sensitise them on the dangers of early pregnancy, but it is a little too late for that now. Thousands of school girls across the country have fallen victim and might not return to school.

It is the role of parents, guardians, community leaders and government to ensure that these girls get all the help they can to deliver safely and be ready to carry on with their studies as soon as they can. 

We all deserve a shot at being who we want to be; we should not allow early pregnancy to destroy their dreams.

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