Rwanda: Riviera High School Defies Govt Directive on Pregnancy Test

(file photo).

A few months after the Ministry of Education ordered schools to stop asking for a pregnancy test as a precondition for admission, Riviera High School has defied the directive.

In a letter from Kabuga-based school signed by its principal Boniface Onyango and addressed to parents, a pregnancy test is one of the requirements for admission for all female students.

This has sparked a debate on social media, and attracted backlash from both activists and parents, who have termed it as discriminatory.

In October last year, a similar incidence occurred at the Bugesera District-based Blue Lakes International School, however, when reached for a comment, a reliable source pointed out that the school had scrapped pregnancy tests off its list of requirements.

"The discriminatory announcement is against many of our government policies and laws and against our girl's education policy and commitments," said Sylvie Nsanga, a feminist and human rights activist.

According to her, the move is even worse considering the Ministry of Education earlier described the practice as unjustified, promising to carry out inspections to ensure that schools end the practice.

"This trauma or shame we are putting only on girls is unfair. Our role as parents and educators is to be there for our children, inform them on time and everything, educate them with truth and put in their hands needed services," she added.

Nsanga highlighted that the practice is likely to increase the number of girls dropping out of school at the same time risking unsafe abortion.

"Totally agree," said social media user Louis Alejandro.

"Do parent-teacher committees still work or they are just mere formalities?" he questioned, citing that schools should be sensitised about contemporary inclusive and tolerant practices.

Alain Mucyo, a Twitter user, said, "I suspect the school doesn't want to be held responsible for the pregnancy of a minor."

Mucyo argues that by law it would be illegal to refuse admission based on a positive pregnancy result.

"But the same law would haunt you if the pregnancy is said to have occurred under your stewardship," he asserted.

Education Ministry responds

In his response, the Minister of State in Charge of Primary and Secondary Education, Gaspard Twagirayezu, condemned the practice.

Twagirayezu reiterated that his institution issued guidelines against the practice, stressing that "We will engage the school accordingly."

Efforts to get a comment from Riviera High School were unsuccessful with several of our phone calls went unanswered.

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