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Authorities Worried About Delayed Return of Pregnant, Breastfeeding Learners to School

According to Nalubega, there is a need for collaborative efforts to ensure the return of young mothers to schools since these children are already traumatized by the effects of what they did out of ignorance.
A sign post Kisimbi Umea Primary School discouraging early sex among children.

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Authorities in Buikwe, Mukono, and Kayunga districts are worried about the delayed return of pregnant and breastfeeding learners to school. The government reopened educational institutions across the country on January 10th, 2022 following almost two years of closure to contain the spread of COVID-19.  

To address the problem of child pregnancies, the Ministry of Education and Sports directed headteachers and other educational authorities to allow all learners to return to school including those who got pregnant or gave birth during the lockdown.

Despite this, many schools in Greater Mukono have not registered learners in this category. Statistics from various district health offices show that over 600 children conceived in Buikwe district, 600 in Kayunga, and Mukono 400. 

Buikwe District Senior Education Officer, Joyce Nalubega has appealed to the foundation bodies, directors, and headteachers to reach out to such learners rather than wait for them to report to school, saying they may never show up. 

According to Nalubega, there is a need for collaborative efforts to ensure the return of young mothers to schools since these children are already traumatized by the effects of what they did out of ignorance. She notes that the failure to return the girls to school will result in bigger danger, heightened cases of domestic violence and other criminal cases.

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Some headteachers interviewed by URN cited the lack of finances to monitor and rehabilitate such children within their localities so as to convince them to return to school. Amina Nakayiza, the headteacher of Kisimba Umea Primary School in Najja Sub County Buikwe District told URN that she tried following up two pupils who got pregnant but was disappointed by their parents who chose to hide them.   

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Godfrey Kanyike, the headteacher of Burere RC Primary School in Buikwe, says that teachers have been equipped with emergency healthcare and antenatal skills in case they happen to get such pupils. He says that the learners will be placed under special needs given their situation. 

Abdunafi Musiitwa, the Head Teacher of Musiita Seed Secondary School at Nazigo sub-county in Kayunga district, says that he prepared a room consisting of three mattresses for the child mothers when they return. He notes that so far three students have registered with the school and they are waiting for them to start. 

He revealed that they shall allow them to study on days they feel energetic enough to attend but encourage them to engage in the discussion so as to move at the same pace with other learners. However, private schools in Mukono are not willing to admit pregnant or breastfeeding learners.  

They subjected all female learners to pregnancy tests on the very day of the resumption of the studies. For instance, schools under the Mukono Diocese were instructed not to admit such learners. A memo issued by the Diocesan Secretary for Education, Rev. Geoffrey Kagoye noted that their intention is not to punish the learners but protect their values in the schools.

“...we should look at the inconveniences to other teachers and students themselves who are pregnant brought as a result of complications of pregnancies. …what will happen to those who get pregnant during the course of study. Will they be implicated when the rest have been allowed to attend classes?” the memo reads in part. 

The diocese runs about 200 schools.  Parents and several residents are not happy with the diocesan instructions. Rosette Nabbumba Nayenga, the Board of Governors of Mukono High, one of the biggest and most populated diocesan schools, wants teachers to be facilitated to handle such learners other than stopping them from attending school.

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