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School Girls More Affected By COVID-19 Lockdown Says Twaweza Survey

Sauti Za Wanainchi survey found that nine out of ten of those who became pregnant in the previous six months were in school before the pandemic-related closures and a little over (56%) are planning to return to school.
Uganda's shutdown of schools severely affected girls as they got impregnated within communities

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One out of ten households experienced teenage pregnancies as schools closed during COVID-19 lock down in the country. 

Finding of survey by the Twaweza’s Sauti Za Wanainchi indicate that citizens said violence, teenage pregnancies and other gender-related social problems increased in their communities during the COVID-19 lock down.  

The survey involving about three thousand respondents covered the period between December 2020, 2021 and January 2022. The finding of the survey were part of the  gender inequality concerns as some districts continue to celebrate World Women's Day 2022.

  The Sauti Za Wanainchi Senior Programs’ Officer, Marie Nanyanzi while releasing the study findings on Thursday in Kampala, said eight out of ten citizens (79%) said teenage pregnancies became the biggest problem in communities followed by physical, emotional and sexual violence (46%) during the lockdown.

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Uganda had the longest school shutdown in the world. As learners remained at home, reports of teenage pregnancies emerged from all the regions of the country.

According to the Sauti Za Wanainchi survey, citizens’ perception of changes in social problems like violence and teenage pregnancies are largely consistent across key demographic groups though women and residents in urban areas are more likely to say violence has grown as a problem.

  The survey, teenage pregnancies were more pronounced or higher among poorer households or these with lower level of education. The eastern and Northern Uganda were more affects finds the survey.   The UN Population Fund(UNFPA) Office in Uganda last year found sixty-seven districts registered increase in teenage pregnancies from 2019 to 2020. UNFPA found that there districts had increase in teenage pregnancies by over 25 percent from 2019 to 2020.

  UNFPA found total of 290,219 teenage pregnancies were recorded from January to September 2021, translating to over 32,000 monthly.

    Amidst high teenage pregnancies during the lockdown, the Ministry of education introduced revised guidelines on pregnancy prevention and management in schools.

    The guidelines required schools to prioritize readmitting mothers and girls after pregnancy and provides redress for children and parents when public schools refuse to enroll them. 

As schools reopened on 10th January this year, a number of schools reported that some girls had not reported back to schools because they had either been impregnated or married off. 

Sauti Za Wanainchi survey found that nine out of ten of those who became pregnant in the previous six months were in school before the pandemic-related closures and a little over (56%) are planning to return to school.

The reason why some girls are not willing to return to school is that they got married (11%) or lack of money for school fees (7%). Similarly, marriage the survey found that marriage (10%) was the main explanation given by the teen mothers will do instead of going back to school.

Twaweza Uganda Country Lead,  Violet Alinda, say the findings raise a question on how to support the teenage mothers as well as tackling all the other issues.

She suggested that it calls for a comprehensive approach to deal with health, emotional, mental, psycho-social, economic, and not only education.

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Alinda highlights that currently, the country has over 600,000 girls who became pregnant during the pandemic, and this number if not attended to in a meaningful way, the country will find it hard to deal with the implications in the future.

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According to the survey t, the main reason citizens say girls are more affected by school closures is that teenage pregnancy is increasing (45%), followed by early marriage (15%). Combining these reasons with others, almost all the reasons why citizens see girls as more affected by school closures relate to sexual behavior.



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