The Coalition on Girls Empowerment says that many girls, who drop out due to pregnancy, have been victimized by schools, fellow pupils and communities adding that the development of a policy on re-entry would go a long way in improving retention levels for girls in school and reduce illiteracy among women.
Government is urged to introduce a school re-entry policy for pregnant girls and young mothers, as a way of addressing gender gaps in the education sector.
The call was made by the Coalition on Girls Empowerment (COGE), a community based organisation advocating for the rights of girl children in Uganda during a conference held at Uganda Museum today.
The coalition argues that many girls, who drop out due to pregnancy, have been victimized by schools, fellow pupils and the communities adding that the development of a policy on re-entry would go a long way in improving retention levels for girls in school and reduce illiteracy among women.
Until recent years, the policy in government was that pregnant girls should be expelled from school. However, this was relaxed in 2009 with a directive allowing those in candidate classes to sit their final examinations.
However, girls are still subjected to expulsion and suspension as a disciplinary measure to deter others from getting pregnant. Often, girls withdraw from school once they establish that they were pregnant, in order to avoid shame among their peers.
As a result, the number of girls completing the education cycle continues to dwindle, compared to the boys. Primary school enrollment statistics indicate that although the enrollment at the primary level stands at 49 per cent girls 51 per cent boys, less than 30 percent of the girls who start primary one, complete Primary seven.
Sarah Murungi, the assistant program officer with the Forum for African Women Educationalists Uganda (FAWEU) notes that girls who drop out of school need to be protected by putting in place structures that would support them.
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She also appealed to Government to replicate a girl mother education program of Christian Counseling fellowship (CCF) where single mothers, girls who drop out due to pregnancy are educated and their children also taken care of. According to Murungi, this is a deliberate effort that will enable the girl child to get educated and develop Uganda.
Winnie Kiiza, the leader of Opposition in Parliament, speaking as the Chief Guest at the event, appealed to girls to focus on their education and get jobs that will lead them to serve the country. She said it is very instrumental that a girl completes University before thinking of marriage.
She says many girls have special talents that should only be developed.