17 February 2013

Uganda: Pregnant Mothers Cannot Stay in School

Photo: Newvision
Uganda spends an estimated U.S. $14 million on unsafe abortions every year, according to research. (file photo).


We have all known pregnancy to be a fountain of joy in marriage, but this is not true at school.

In school, pregnancy means the genesis of suffering especially to the girl child, and has been an attribute to the sky-rocketing numbers of school-dropouts in Uganda today. It is a common routine for schools to conduct pregnancy tests at the opening of every term, and some schools can afford conducting them at the end of the term and at any other necessary interval. They are usually general, but they can also target particular classes and even individual students.

In girls' schools and mixed schools, pregnancy tests cause a lot of tension and excitement to both the students and staff because anything can come out of them. This causes anticipations and predictions on who will be and who will not be found pregnant. It is always that quiet, seemingly religious, morally upright girl, who turns victim, not the noisy, jumpy woodpecker in the classroom corners.

Early pregnancy is one sign of inadequate or inappropriate methods of home and school training. The repercussions of being found pregnant are far beyond imagination; expulsion from school, ostracism from families, trauma and destitution, suicide and abortion, depending on how the school or the parents handle it.

Schools cannot tolerate pregnancy because it breaks the canonical rules of their communities, they cannot have pregnant teachers and students, they are not maternity institutions, and they do not have special care programmes for gynaecological vulnerability.

And besides, pregnancy is a sign of premature adulthood which is detrimental even to the school's moral standards and this can lead to loss of trust from parents who educate daughters in the same school. A pregnant girl in school is like a bad apple that is feared to spoil the entire basket.

With the deteriorating levels of sex education, boys and girls are more likely to find themselves in such conditions today than in the past. There is extra commuting to and from school at awkward times, sending students back home for school fees when the parents are not aware, public functions and shopping sprees, cheap and available transport means which has eased transport and the cellular mobile network, all these are deathtraps to your child, unless you work with other stakeholders to squarely handle and educate the child about the society he or she lives in.

You will still need professionals to handle a pregnancy case in school and at home; otherwise, your daughter may never make it or may never recover from it fully and may lead a desperate life even in future. You will need time to compose yourself and accept the truth. Your insults and curses may not help, but professional understanding and decision making will make you a successful teacher or parent.

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