More than 100,000 school girls were impregnated during the Covid-19 induced lockdown, records at the Ministry of Education and Sports indicate.
President Yoweri Museveni announced the closure of all education institutions with a hope of slowing down the spread of the pandemic. The lockdown however exposed school girls to sexual exploitation.
As schools re-opened on October 15 for candidate classes, government directed school administrators to allow pregnant girls back and continue with their studies but without guidelines to help them stay in school.
The Ministry has at last drafted guidelines for the management of pregnant girls\mothers to help them stay in school.
According to the guidelines, school administrators are required to keep in touch with the pregnant girls to monitor their wellbeing and provide the necessary emotional, moral and spiritual support. The schools will also be expected to keep the records of whoever is responsible for the pregnancy for easy tracking when the need arises.
If the boy is in the same school with the girl, he will have to leave and only return once she has delivered. The girls will also be expected to stay away from school and return after delivering. The school management will also be required to identify a trained counsellor to counsel the girl including discussing with her the guidelines for retention or continuation of school and re-entry after delivery.
The head teacher and other staff members will be required to handle the cases professionally in collaboration with the girl’s family to provide social support.
The acting gender advisor at the Ministry of Education and Sports, Rosette Nanyanzi said during a meeting with UNICEF officials at Golf Court Hotel in Kampala on Wednesday that schools are required to conduct sexuality education and teach life skills using age-appropriate messages as defined in the national sexuality education framework.
She called for community and government involvement to ultimately empower girls, their families and community members. She also called on media platforms to include the issue of teenage pregnancies in their agenda and push for its total elimination. “When you people start blowing that trumpet, our teachers will wake up and help fight the vice,” she said.