Who is to blame for the Rise in Teenage Pregnancies during 2018 National Examinations?
When we talk about teenage pregnancies in Kenya you may think, “it’s never that serious,” but once the news headlines are bold with titles like “20 candidates give birth…” it becomes alarming.
Seeing this makes me so mad at the perpetrators who engage minors in sex but also I am worried about minors engaging in sexual relations. There are consequences to every action and in this case, there is a new life to be brought into the world.
According to Citizen Digital, 13,000 girls in Kilifiwere reported pregnant in the past one year. “Among girls between 10-14 we recorded 290 pregnancies, and these are recorded at health centers. Among girls between 15-19 we had 13,624 cases, that over the past one year.” Kilifi Children Affairs Co-ordinator, George Migosi.
The Kenya Certificate of Primary School examinations began on November 30 and ended November 1, 2018. According to Standard Digital, during this period, at least 9 candidates gave birth.
Speaking one of the exam material inspection, Education Cabinet Secretary Ambassador Amina Mohammed said this matter raises concern in the education sector.
“A high number of candidates became mothers during the three days of KCPE. If this is the case all-year round, the country could be facing a real crisis,” the CS said.
As a society, we need to speak openly to children about sexual reproductive health and make this a norm instead of shying away from it. The core responsibility has to start from parents, as this will reduce the responsibility delegation to teachers and the society to teach children morals and values.
Empowering girls and boys have to go hand-in-hand when giving life skill lessons and not having one gender segregated. Boys have to be taught from a young age about respecting women and girls ought to be taught from a young age about self-love and awareness. With these values that shape character, then we are assured that the children are growing in an informed society.
Statistics from United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) show that a total of 23,932 girls aged between 10-14 years were impregnated between July 2016 and June 2017, recording that touts, boda boda operators, disco matangas and child marriages are leading causes to teenage pregnancies.
As for child marriage religious leaders and law enforcers should be at the forefront in empowering communities to deal with cultural child marriage in marginalised counties like at the Coast region.
But aside from this, I still strongly believe that sexual reproductive health is key and should be taken with a lot of seriousness. It is a collaborative effort from all members of the society but especially parents. It is wrong for parents to assume that their child will learn about sexual reproductive health in school, or by themselves. Once children start talking, often, they speak about hear-says but should the information come first hand from home, then they can be sure that the information is credible and helpful for others too. But again families are different and they believe in various things. Parents engaging their children in “sensitive”(I put this in quotes because most people view sex as an abnormal topic whereas it is not) talks and create a comfortable open environment to express themselves.
My other concern that I propose relevant enforcers should look into, is finding proper consequence measures to be taken upon the agemates who impregnate girls while in school. Should a case be reported that a minor is pregnant, the person responsible should be identified and dealt with according to the laws stipulating the crime regardless of whether the male is a minor or an adult. This way, no one goes scot-free for breaking the law and assuming that the minor was not aware of the consequences.