AT least 229 girls in Kagera Region dropped out of school due to pregnancies between 2014 and this year, the Kagera Regional Education Development Officer, Mr Aloys Kamamba has disclosed. According to Mr Kamamba, 188 girls were in secondary schools while 41 others were in primary schools.
Ngara District recorded the highest number with 60 dropouts, followed by Bukoba Rural (52). Other districts (the dropout figures in brackets) are Missenyi (36), Biharamulo (28), Karagwe (23), Muleba (19) and Bukoba Municipality (6), Kyerwa District recorded five cases.
Pregnancy is one of the major reasons for school dropouts among teenage girls. In 2007, it accounted for 21.9 per cent of secondary schools drop out. Mtwara Region is one of the leading areas in Tanzania for teenage pregnancy.
Statistics show that school dropouts caused by pregnancies increased from 5.2 percent in 2003 to 21.9 percent in 2007. Among other factors, social and cultural reasons for teen pregnancies include poor parental monitoring, pressure from peer groups and sexual feelings among individuals.
The introduction of ward secondary schools that forced teens to hire rooms far from their parents has also been cited as one of the reasons for increasing sexual activity among teens.
The high rate of teen pregnancies is not only due to economic and low knowledge about sexuality but also due to other social factors that affect day to day life of the teenagers. Teen pregnancies are due to unprotected and early sexual intercourse, which also exposes teenagers to other risks of contacting Sexually Transmitted Infections and other sexual diseases such as HIV Aids.
Prevention of teenagers from engaging in love affairs at early stages is a very important intervention in preventing of early pregnancies. Education on sexuality, its impacts and uses of contraceptives should be provided in primary school at early grades.
Programmes targeting attitudes and social norms that facilitate sexual activities among the youth should be encouraged. Stronger emphasis on secondary school students is vital. Nevertheless, educational programmes that promote sexuality education to teenager who are sexually immature are highly encouraged.
This is because it might be too late to introduce such a programme for teens who are sexually active about prevention methods for unwanted pregnancies. Parents/guardian plays a vital role in sexual life of their teens.
Parents should be encouraged to educate, discuss issues related to sexuality with their children direct or indirectly. Parents and guardians should be educated about the prone and cons of doing or not doing so.