• Bill requires that school management handles the matter with confidentiality.
• School will not be liable for any eventuality that may arise if the student declines to take the test.
Schoolgirls who get pregnant could soon have it easy in a bill that prohibits mandatory pregnancy tests without their consent in schools banned.
The drastic bill which could be viewed in conservative quarters as a pivot from morality also stops the teachers from informing the parents or guardians of the affected girl about the pregnancy until they consult the student.
The Senate bill is sponsored by ODM Nominated Senator Beatrice Kwamboka.
The Care and Protection of Child Parents Bill 2019 also seeks to ensure school children who are pregnant or are already parents do not get disadvantaged in schools in terms of learning. It also seeks to mainstream their care in the education system.
It also proposes that pregnant schoolgirls are retained and sustained in school as long as it takes before they deliver so that they do not miss out on the lessons and the exams.
And even after delivering and weaning their children, the bill proposes, the student be allowed back and facilitated to cover for the lost time and exams, starting from where they left it.
Re-admission to continue studying, it is proposed, will take place after 12 months from the time they delivered. Any headteacher or board that stops it will be jailed for six months or a fine of Sh500,000.
Article 10 of the bill proposes that if a teacher or any school staff suspects that a student is expectant, they should report to the principal of the institution who is then obligated to refer the girl to a nearby health institution for tests and if she refuses, then principal won't be liable for any eventuality that may arise.
"Where the principal of the institution of basic education is of the opinion that child may be pregnant, the principal shall refer the child to a health institution for a medical examination and such other health examination as may be necessary to determine the status of the child," it proposes.
"A child shall not be compelled to undergo a medical examination where she refuses to undergo the examination. Where a child refuses to undergo a medical examination, the institution shall not be held liable for any consequences that may arise from the failure by the child to undergo the medical examination."
The bill obligates the head of the schools to handle the matter with maximum confidentiality so the affected girl is facilitated to learn without any challenge within and without the institution.
"The management of an institution of basic education shall not inform the parents or guardians of a child who while in the institution, falls pregnant unless the child has been consulted on the matter," the bill reads.
It is not clear what options the teachers and the school managers will have should the child decline to have their guardians and parents be told of the development.
The bill has also not specified the options the teachers will have if the girl refuses the pregnancy tests yet they are manifestly confident that the girl is expectant.
It also obligates the school management to put in place frameworks that ensure the pregnant child or the child-parent is well protected, including from the ridicule by her fellow students.
"The management of an institution shall not discriminate against a child who falls pregnant while in school and shall put in place, enforceable rules and such other mechanisms to ensure that the other children within the school do not mistreat or in any way discriminate against the child," it reads.
Once declared pregnant, the bill requires the teachers to take the girl through special training to build their mothering capacity as well as life skills to prepare them for their new and next phase of life.
Edited by R.Wamochie