• The country has been experiencing cases of early pregnancy even before the first coronavirus case in the country was announced in March.
• Statistics show one in five girls aged between 15 and 19 get pregnant, according to Teenage Pregnancy Situation in Kenya report by the National Council on Population and Development
In the recent address by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Covid-19, he directed the ministries of Education and Health to issue guidelines on a gradual return to schools by mid-August.
Education is among the sectors that have been hit hard by the spread of the virus, creating an unprecedented disruption . Pupils and students have been home to curb the spread of coronavirus. It has been reiterated that staying at home is safe for the students and their families but now this is slowly becoming unsafe for girls due to the rising cases of teenage pregnancy.
Education CS George Magoha on June 4 expressed deep concern and regret after noting that some three girls out four whom he personally got from the slums. took them to schools, and then looked for scholarships are already pregnant.
The CS blamed parents for not providing sufficient care for their children while at home.
The country, was, however, experiencing cases of early pregnancy even before the first coronavirus case in the country was announced in March.
Statistics show one in five girls aged between 15 and 19 get pregnant, according to Teenage Pregnancy Situation in Kenya report by the National Council on Population and Development.
It’s clear, schools will not be re-opened soon considering close to 351 public schools are being used by the government as quarantine facilities. This means many girls will continue facing the risk of getting pregnant as the stay at home with minimal engagement. This requires early interventions to mitigate the looming crisis.
The ministries of Education and Health, media and other relevant stakeholders, including civil society organisations and community leaders must work together now more than ever to ensure girls resume their studies uninterrupted when schools reopen.
The remote radio learning being provided should include sexual education and life skills to ensure young people understand the consequences of engaging in sexual activity, how they can protect themselves from early unintended pregnancy by using methods of contraception available if they’re unable to abstain from sex.
CSOs and local leaders, including chiefs must be involved and their collaboration secured to expand or create safe spaces for vulnerable children.
Here, they should access support and essential materials such as sanitary towels to protect them from adults who lure them for transactional sex. Mass media has a big role to play similar to the wider messaging being provided on control of the virus. Media must step up now to remind all Kenyans particularly leaders that adolescent pregnancy remains a major challenge in our country.
Dollarman Fatinato, Nairobi