Charles Ondoki Torac, the Head Teacher of Holy Rosary Primary School in Gulu told Uganda Radio Network in an interview that the school is welcoming all learners irrespective of their status. He says that so far the school has registered one Primary seven learner who came back with two children.
Several schools across the country have
created safe spaces for learners who conceived during COVID-19 lockdown. The
spaces are used mainly for those who have to breastfeed babies, while at the
same time attending classes.
This follows reports that
thousands of teenagers became pregnant over the last two years when schools
were closed as a measure to contain the spread of coronavirus disease. In the
aftermath, the government advised schools to allow all learners pregnant or breastfeeding
to return to school, as the gates reopened on January 10, 2022.
Schools were also encouraged to
make the environment conducive for learners in this category. In response, both
primary and secondary schools in Soroti have set aside rooms to cater for
female learners who may be pregnant or breastfeeding at school. Statistics from various districts indicate
that more than 30,000 teenage girls got pregnant in the last two years.
Although no pregnant or lactating
mother has turned up, Awoja Primary School in Aukot Sub County has organized
two rooms while Kichinjaji Primary School in Soroti City has a room for teen
mothers. In Soroti Secondary School, three breastfeeding learners have turned
up and for them, the school has created a double room and shade to take care of
the babies and their attendants.
Joseph Ecegem, the Deputy Head
Teacher in charge of academics says that they have created space to accommodate
more than 100 child-mothers if they show up. He says that the school has also
recruited a nurse on standby to help mothers and their children while at
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Winnie Aculo, 20, a mother of a two-month-old baby is among the first breastfeeding students to return to Soroti
Secondary School. Aculo conceived after the first lockdown which was instituted
by the government in March 2020, but she says her parents surprised her when they
told her to return to school.
“I was staying with the father of
my child when my father asked me to go back to school. It was like a dream
because I never expected him to have forgiven me so easily. I am extremely
happy for the opportunity to return to school,” she said.
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But her Father Albert Okello says
that giving girls a chance to study after falling victim of unwanted
pregnancies helps the affected children to reform and focus on education. He
said that it would be a double loss to his family if he left his daughter to
marry off without giving her a second chance.
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At Bugunzu Primary School in
Sironko district, the school has received a primary-four pregnant pupil who was
reportedly impregnated by a 46-year-old man. Scovia Nafuna, the School Deputy Headteacher said that for girls like her, the school management has set up a
shelter and tasked the senior woman teacher to take charge and help them
balance parenting and school.
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Charles Ondoki Torac, the Head
Teacher of Holy Rosary Primary School in Gulu told Uganda Radio Network in an
interview that the school is welcoming all learners irrespective of their
status. He says that so far the school has registered one Primary seven learner
who came back with two children.
Ondoki adds that the school has
equally created a special room that will accommodate learners with special
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In Kisoro, District
Education Officer Emmanuel Mwunvaneeza says that his office has registered one case
of a pregnant minor who has reported to a primary school. Without divulging
details for fear of victimization, Mwunvaneeza says that his office has issued
guidance and counselling measures on how the pregnant and breastfeeding learners
will be handled in order to remain comfortable.
He adds that they have been
training senior women teachers in primary schools on how to handle child- mothers
when they turn in schools.
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In Entebbe Municipality, some of
the schools say that they are ready to handle pregnant learners. Sarah Monica
Nabirye, the Entebbe Municipal Education Officer told our reporter that all
schools, particularly public schools, must not turn away learners who are
expecting or breastfeeding.
"We held several workshops
ahead of the re-opening of schools and among the issues we discussed was how
schools could manage pregnant and breastfeeding learners.” As a result, the public schools
are expected to have counsellors or senior teachers and other support mechanisms to encourage these learners to report to school and study until they
are three months pregnant as guided by the education ministry.
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But in the Lango sub-region, most
schools indicated that they are not prepared for child-mothers. At Okio
Primary School in Aromo Sub County in Lira District, Kenneth Acuma, the headteacher says they have space limitations.
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Zaddock Odongo, the headteacher
Adem primary school in Otuke district wondered how schools will detect
pregnancy in young girls and be able to keep them in school among other pupils.
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Similarly, in Kasese district, several
schools do not have facilities to accommodate pregnant or breastfeeding
learners, and George Mayinja, the District Education Officer says that it is
suitable for child-mothers to return to school within three months after childbirth.
Kirinya Ayubu is the URN Bureau Chief of Elgon/Bukedi Sub Regions . He holds a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communication from Islamic University in Uganda and a Diploma in Computer Science and Information Technology from the same University.