Children rights activists have welcomed the government directive to allow teenage mothers to return to schools with an appeal to the general public to avoid stigma.
The activists say that such guidance has been long overdue since many of the girls that enroll for school dropout because of sexual abuse that result into teenage pregnancy.
Hope Wambi, the advocacy manager Raising Voices says as schools reopen this week, teachers, parents and the student community ought to create a conducive environment in schools and home, if the unfortunate young mothers are to enjoy their right to education.
Wambi says that whereas having a government directive for schools to allow pregnant girls back to school is a good move, it is not enough and more needs to be done if they are to stay in schools and achieve their future dreams.
She appeals for mindset change and continued sensitization of the public on supporting teenage mothers instead of stigmatizing them.
“First of all there is fighting stigma, even self-stigma because someone feels I have fallen pregnant yet am going back to school already dealing with that is a lot, so just to have the willingness to go back to school is something that is difficult but if they have initiated it let’s be supportive,” noted Wambi
She also turned to the teachers and the school administrators asking them to create the right environment both physically and psychologically that when these children return to school they find an embracing culture, they find teachers who are supportive, they find other learners who are supportive so that the directives/guidelines can be implemented
With the right environment the children can find safety and solace in education at school as opposed to all challenges they have gone through as they were going through the pregnancy, Wambi stressed.
She says that by allowing the teenage mothers to go back to school, in this way the government is mitigating the adverse long-term consequences of having uneducated mothers in the country.
“Just imagine if a girl drops out of school at 14 years and starts being a mother, what will she then be, how will she feed the children. And you know the perpetrators of such acts deny responsibility, so you find that allowing these children go back to school is helping them pursue their dreams and in future they will be more helpful and more supportive to government and the general public as opposed if they are left to bury their futures because someone took advantage of them” said Wambi.
Wambi stressed the need for stakeholders to focus on preventing all forms of violence against children in every space we are part of, for instance there were many cases sexually violence that the country registered during this Covid19 pandemic.
“We are counting the pregnancies, but behind every teenage pregnancy is a defilement case, somebody, somewhere is responsible for that defilement, we should put more effort in trucking down these e perpetrators and ensuring that they are brought to book”, she concludes.