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Kenyan Schools are Catering to the Needs of Pregnant Teens & Teen Moms to drive Girl Child Education

“Evelina,” 17, with her 3-year-old daughter “Hope,” in Migori county, western Kenya. (Photo: Smita Sharma for Human Rights Watch, 2018)

Some schools in Kenya have put in place special measures to help thousands of girls who got pregnant during the long break and teen mothers return to their studies.

From organising special meals, to redesigning bathrooms and offering medical care and psychosocial support, schools want the girls to enjoy their time in class.

Already, hundreds of teenage mothers and expectant girls have reported back to school following an order by Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha.

In Homa Bay County, a psychosocial support centre has been set up in Ndhiwa town to counsel students with learning challenges, including pregnant girls and teenage mothers.

It will also offer support to boys who abandoned books to engage in income generating activities.

"My office is working together with local churches to ensure all girls go back to school," Ndhiwa MP Martin Owino said.

In Migori County, some schools have made arrangements to provide special meals. Kamsaki Girls Secondary School principal Jael Onyango yesterday told Nation that the plan is to help meet the special dietary needs of expectant mothers.

At St Alberts Ulanda Girls, there is a policy for antenatal care for expectant learners. The principal, Phinora Buyengo, said the school is equipped with special bathrooms as well as close supervision from the guidance and counselling department.

In Kisii County, Kereri Girls High School has partnered with RAM Hospital to give specialised attention to pregnant students, the principal Teresa Atieno said.

In Kericho County, a teacher who did not want to be named said they are having challenges taking care of young mothers and their babies, especially in boarding institutions.

"The parents and guardians have been advised that once their daughters give birth, they would be expected to rent houses for them outside the school compound," said the principal. In Bungoma County, teen mothers will have to leave their babies at home.

"Learners who have given birth will be forced to leave their babies at home and those who are pregnant will continue to learn until when they deliver," said county director of education Philip Chirchir. In Samburu, education officials have directed schools to set aside safe and sanitary spaces for breastfeeding.

In Kisumu County, some school heads who sought anonymity said many teen mothers have transferred to other schools to avoid the stigma that comes with pregnancy.

However, Kisumu county director of education Isaac Atebe said they are yet to come up with the statistics of the expectant and teen mothers who have resumed school.

In parts of the South Rift, a number of the learners who are in various stages of pregnancy have reported to schools, said Bomet County Director of Education Mabale Indiatsi. Most of the girls who fell pregnant in the region are said to have been married off during the holidays.

Turkana County director of education Peter Magiri said inspection of schools was on-going to ensure that all expectant girls are admitted and supported in their studies. In Nandi, County Commissioner Geoffrey Omoding said most of the teenage mothers are yet to report back due to lack of special facilities.

"Schools need to adjust their programmes to ensure teenage mothers and pregnant girls receive special treatment," said Mr Omoding. A report by the Education ministry and Department of Health indicates that about 10,000 girls got pregnant during the long holiday in the county and about 80 percent of them have not reported back to school.

Source: Nation


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