IF THEY WANT BACK IN SCHOOL

Pregnant schoolgirls to name boyfriends,rapists - Magoha

They frequently suffer discrimination, sometimes are expelled and never allowed back to continue studies.

In Summary

• Schools will now be required to unconditionally readmit learners back to school after giving birth.

• Pregnant learners will also be required to reveal to the headteacher he identity of those responsible for the pregnancy. 

Education CS Prof George Magoha.
COMPASSION Education CS Prof George Magoha.
Image: JACK OWUOR

A pregnant schoolgirl will no longer be expelled as an example of sinful behaviour.

However, she will be compelled to reveal the identity of the boy or man who made her pregnant, either with her consent or through rape.

In a new national policy proposal seen by the Star, school bosses will be required to unconditionally readmit the girls within six months after giving birth or at the beginning of the new school calendar year. 

 

Some schools do not expel pregnant girls and readmit them but most faith-affiliated schools are said to expel pregnant learners for violating religious doctrine — no sex before marriage.

If the boyfriend is a teenager, he will be enrolled in a counselling and guidance programme at the expense of the school. The girl will as well; she will also be allowed to transfer to another school.

But if the perpetrator is an adult, the school administration will be obliged to inform the police who will arrest and charge him with defilement and possibly rape.

COUNSELLING

If the boyfriend is a teenager, he will be enrolled in a counselling and guidance programme at the expense of the school. The girl will as well; she will also be allowed to transfer to another school.

But if the perpetrator is an adult, the school administration will be obliged to inform the police who will arrest and charge him with defilement and possibly rape.

These guidelines already have been subjected to wide stakeholder discussion and the document incorporates their views.

It only awaits the signature of Education CS Prof George Magohaand then will go into force nationwide, affecting both public and private schools. 

Adults who make minors pregnant will find it rough as guidelines demand the headteacher to report to the police and the Children's Department for legal action.

According to the Kenyan Sexual Offenses Act, a person who commits penetration of a child (minors are aged 17 and under), he is charged with defilement and must stand trial.

 

A person convicted of defiling a child aged 11 years and under shall be sentenced to life in prison.

One convicted of defiling a child between the ages of 12 and 15 years shall be sentenced to not less than 20 years.

Defilement of a child between the ages of 16 and 18 attracts a prison term of not less than 15 years.

A minor, 17 and under, who defiles a child could be sentenced to as long as life in prison.

Schoolgirls who get pregnant frequently suffer discrimination, expulsion and are not allowed back to continue their education.

The proposed guidelines titled 'National Guidelines for School Re-entry in Basic Education' seek to ensure that all those who drop out of school for various reasons are smoothly admitted upon their return.

Also to benefit are learners living with HIV-Aids, those who have suffered gender-based violence, traumatic cultural practices such as FGM, child labour and child trafficking.

Guidelines also cover learners with special needs and disability, those who have suffered drug and substance abuse and those with mental health issues.

During last year’s KCPE and KCSE examinations, it emerged that a significant number of girls were taking their examinations while pregnant or shortly after giving birth.

This raised the alarm about the rise of teenage pregnancies, prompting the Education Ministry to take action.

The then Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed initiated the process to develop guidelines to protect young girls from sexual offences.

Upon learning that a girl is pregnant, the headteacher would have been required to notify the parent of the child.

Under the new guidelines, the schools, learners and parents will sign a commitment letter as proof to help the child return to school.

The policy also requires teachers and employers to take action against teachers found to have made learners pregnant.

Teachers Service Commission statistics reveal that in the last eight years, 1,077 teachers have been sacked for having sexual relations with students.

To address discrimination that might arise from the pregnancy, the ministry allows learners to transfer to different schools after delivery.

“Should the learner seek a transfer from the institutions where they previously schooled, then the headteacher through the director of education at the sub-county level will assist the learner to gain admission in another school,” the guidelines say.

The pregnant learner will also be placed into a guidance and counselling programme.

“A pregnant learner shall be allowed to remain in school for as long as possible, after which she should take leave, give birth and return to school after six months or at the beginning of the next school year,” the document reads.

In the case of learners living with HIV, the guidelines stipulate institutions keep their medical records confidential and provide the required medical assistance to the learner.

“Learners living with HIV shall not be discriminated against and shall continue with schooling without hindrance until they complete their education,” the document reads.

A pregnant learner shall be allowed to remain in school for as long as possible, after which she should take leave, give birth and return to school after six months or at the beginning of the next school year
Report

Yesterday, Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association chairman Indimuli Kahi termed the policy a positive step towards securing children in school.

“It is a collective responsibility to ensure a learner is safe in school... The guidelines will help learners but also we need assistance from parents who have now pushed the parenting responsibility to teachers," Kahi said.

Nicholas Maiyo, the National Parents Association chairman, praised the move but warned of traditional arrangements that parents reach with offenders to circumvent the law and legal punishment.

“In some communities, some parents seek an out-of-court settlement for learners who have been impregnated and in some cases, they are even married off... The ministry should tighten the noose on this and ensure that the long arm of the law takes its course," Maiyo told the Star yesterday.

The Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association chairman also sought preventive measures in reducing teen pregnancies, noting it will help reduce the problem significantly.

"Sex education should be a critical pillar in the syllabus. This will help the learners not only to prevent pregnancies but also boldly embrace changes they experience during puberty and understand steps to ensure they are safe from paedophiles," Gathemia said yesterday.