Give teenage pregnancy the attention it deserves

What you need to know:

  • As a teacher, I speak with confidence that even in our usual calendar of three to  four weeks of holiday, children report with a lot of issues ranging from deviant behaviour to low concentration in class activities. 

As we draw closer to opening up of schools (on assumption after the 7 million populace attaining full vaccination status) which I predict might happen mid next year unless otherwise, we should start preparing our children psychologically for some might have lost interest in education, especially the relatively mature ones in lower classes. 

As a teacher, I speak with confidence that even in our usual calendar of three to four weeks of holiday, children report a lot of issues ranging from deviant behaviour to low concentration in-class activities. 

Actually, it takes them a few weeks to adapt depending on the teacher-student relationship; what about a year of inactive class contact?

According to Twaweza, (an NGO which promotes education countrywide) a great percentage of teenage girls (about 45 per cent ) especially in the East and North might not go back to school due to teenage pregnancy. 
This places the future of these regions at crossroads.

 Actually, that information has been captured quicker for once a girl gets pregnant, it’s very easy to identify because the tummy becomes the public announcement and besides that, societal stigma but what about our boys?

The continued lockdown is good as the fountain of honour seals it that it is the best way to guard Ugandans although it’s equally not logical to feed the stomach and leave the brain. 

According to Dr Richard Mugahi, an assistant commissioner of reproductive and infant health at the Health ministry, in one of the surveys conducted last month, he categorically placed it that teenage pregnancies is a very big challenge. 
He further stated that girls are safer in schools. 

Now that opening schools this year seems inevitable for the target set by the President of 7 million people to be vaccinated before opening can happen seems realistically too high to achieve in the two months remaining, we need to find a solution to this problem.

Recently,  Mr Innocent Abongo, the Apac District probation officer, reported that more than 700 girls had been impregnated during the Covid-19 induced lockdown; the impact of these pregnancies is far-reaching and children right activists and feminists should wake up to blow the whistle on different measures to be done in curbing the vice. 

As the government plans on opening up of schools, let authorities organise village or parish programmes that can help to guide learners especially through counselling and career guidance that is no longer accessible due to obvious reasons.
We need to remember that the   growth and development in these children has not be stunted. Meaning, we have a gap. 

On the other hand, one might argue that parents can do this  [counselling and guidance] but even of late it has been schools doing it. Most parents are busy and children are left in the custody of maids who even some times molest them. 

If we are to talk about women emancipation, we need to empower our girls and shield them from predators but above all trash the ideology of ‘pregnancy’ doesn’t kill; we should not protect ourselves from Covid-19 only. Such thoughts shall place us in a deep pit.

Moses Wawah Onapa
Educationist & child protection activist
[email protected]

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