2 weeks ago, schools opened in Uganda after the longest closure period worldwide. The tension had several stakeholders address the different challenges facing the education sector as schools reopened. A renowned church leader by the name of Bishop Ssebagala James was quoted saying, “Block Pregnant girls from attending school.”
There was so much backlash from the public and different communities on the highly sensitive issue.
As most of the responses had the Bishop by the neck, others were actually in support of his declaration. So we wonder, where do teenage girls who got pregnant during the lockdown go?
Teenage pregnancy are difficult, especially if you’re still in school. But should pregnant teenagers be allowed to stay in school during their pregnancy or not?
While some societies allow pregnant teens to stay in school, many others force them to drop out of school once they are pregnant so that they can take care of their child or children at home instead of worrying about going to class every day. After birth, some schools allow the young moms to return and continue with school.
It's with no doubt that it's an inconvenience to the rest of the students as it is to the victim therefore as stakeholders, we need to raise solutions that strike a balance in solving both challenges.
Sex education is a major need for the present-day generation. Schools and communities need to have early conversations about sexuality to make it a normal stage of life and growth. Open and honest conversations are really important while they're still young, for they lay the groundwork for them to make healthier choices about sex when they’re older.
Secondly, we need to cut down the rate at which children are exposed to so much inappropriate adult content which damages them leading them to engage in high-risk sex. Technology makes it hard but parents and caregivers need to censor the information these children are able to access.
Laws that protect children from sexual abuse, rape, defilement, forced early marriages and sexual harassment need to be put in place and actually implemented. A girl child needs to be protected to be able to acquire an education and compete for equal opportunities without facing any challenges.
Nevertheless, systems need to be presented that fully support pregnant girls to be able to obtain an education without any discrimination or being mocked by their peers.
African governments need to adopt ambitious goals to address and put an end to these issues, introduce and avail comprehensive sexuality and reproductive health education programs, and address the very high rates of teenage pregnancy across the continent that negatively affect girls’ education.
We believe pregnant students in Africa need support, not rejection. Lenoir Foundation is working with different communities to help all children attain an education, especially girls in order to reduce the different challenges they face across different African communities that hinders them from thriving to attain their biggest dreams.