FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday 26th March 2021
Kampala, Uganda. Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) recognises the government’s efforts to ensure that pregnant girls sit for final examinations. However, we assert that this is not enough, especially in light of recently revised guidelines for the prevention and management of teenage pregnancy in school settings in Uganda.
In 2020 the Ministry of Education and Sports issued these guidelines, which stated that girls must undergo mandatory periodic pregnancy tests. The guidelines add that if found pregnant, the girl is forced to go on maternity leave when she is at least three months pregnant. The guidelines allow pregnant girls to sit for final examinations. However, on 16th March, 2021, Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) through their official Twitter handle noted that pregnant girls will be allowed to sit for the exams but warned that “the leeway may not continue after Covid era”. It went on to warn that UNEB does not condone teenage pregnancy and as such, learners should concentrate on studies before they think of babies. We find the warning by UNEB that the “leeway may not continue after covid” contrary to the guidelines issued by the Ministry.
On the revised guidelines, we are concerned about the provision requiring mandatory maternity leave in case of pregnancy. Allowing girls to sit exams while denying them an opportunity to attend class effectively amounts to violation of the right to education.
Teenage pregnancies indeed have grave consequences on the girl’s life and their future including the fact that she is more likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth. With an estimated 34% of school girls dropping out of school, Uganda will be raising a generation where women are locked out of education because of teenage pregnancy. We will be raising a generation where women significantly suffer long term effects such as limited skills essential for productivity and employability.
Call to Action
We ask that instead of taking action that punishes young girls, the government must take proactive measures that reduce teenage pregnancy while enabling pregnant teenagers to stay in school, prepare for and sit for their exams. We specifically ask that;
- Parliament uses its mandate to summon the Hon Minister of Education and Sports to update parliament on the progress of the National School Health Policy as it would address such issues.
- The government prioritizes management of school health programmes in times of health pandemics,
- The government promotes access to youth sexual and reproductive health and rights.
- That parliament in the exercise of its oversight mandate follows up on the implementation of the parliamentary resolutions to end teenage pregnancies of
- The relevant government line ministries give a status on the implementation of the parliamentary resolution of 2011 urging the government to institute measures to address maternal mortality and other matters considering that teenage pregnancies are one of the big contributors to maternal deaths.
- That the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development fast tracks the effective implementation of the National Strategy on Ending Child Marriage and Teenage Pregnancies in Uganda of 2015.
Center for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) is a non-profit, research and advocacy organisation pioneering the justifiability of the right to health in Uganda. Founded in 2010, CEHURD has moved from the margins to the center stage of advancing social justice and health rights in health systems including the rights of health workers in Uganda, East African Region, Pan-African and Globally.
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