Male students who will impregnate their female counterparts at school will also be sent home for the period the girl will spend way during pregnancy and giving birth, as part of the punishment to reduce teenage pregnancies in schools.
This is enshrined in the new guidelines released yesterday by the Ministry of Education for management of teenage pregnancies in schools across the country.
While releasing the guidelines in Kampala, Ms Rosetti Nanyanzi, the acting gender technical adviser in the Ministry of Education, said it was not fair to send home only girls while their male counterparts who impregnated them were left to continue with their studies.
“All schools will be required to send those boys home as a punishment for impregnating other people’s children. It was not fair for boys to continue studying while the girls are home. The boy will go through the same pain of sitting home and this will serve as a lesson to them,” Ms Nanyanzi said.
She said the moment the school establishes that a male student has impregnated a female student, the parents of both students should be called and they agree on terms and conditions.
Ms Angella Nansubuga, the finance and administration officer at the Gender Unit of the Gender ministry, said this is a positive punishment that should be embraced by all parents and schools.
“It is a positive punishment where both girls and boys have to undergo similar checks and balances as this will make them come back to school as reformed people. If parents of the expelled boy decide to defer and take him to another school, the administrators of the schools that expelled him will be required to transfer his file to that other school for consideration,” she added.
She said if the perpetrators are above 18 years old, the law will define their punishment.
Other guidelines stipulate that the girlchild will go on a mandatory maternity leave when she is at least three months pregnant and schools will be expected to be flexible in allowing her to sit for her end of year examinations if she wishes to. She will also be given six months after giving birth.
This means a girl and a boy will spend 13 months at home before returning to school.
Ms Nanyanzi said if a girl gets pregnant, she should be allowed to sit for the promotional exams so that when she returns to school, she is promoted to another class. She said those in candidate classes are also supposed to sit for their final papers.
“Schools have been expelling girls immediately they get pregnant. We are saying no. Let the schools allow the girls to study for the first three months as they prepare them to leave the schools and their retention after giving birth. This will prepare their minds,” Ms Nanyanzi said.
She also said the schools shall work hand-in-hand with counsellors to refer the girl to nearby health facilities for their antenatal services.
The Ministry of Education is working with the World Vision, Gender ministry and the Ministry of Health to implement these guidelines in all schools.
1. Each school shall have a School Health Committee (SHC) with a trained counsellor.
2. The school shall conduct sexuality education and teach life skills using age-appropriate messages as defined in the national Sexuality Education Framework,
3. All girls should be examined for pregnancy periodically, at least once termly.
4. The pregnant girl shall be put on a counselling programme.
5. The school and the parent/caregiver shall enter an agreement for the girl to re-enter school.