Governor Lusaka calls for ban on teen mothers from schools

Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka. [Nathan Ochunge, Standard]

Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka has called for legislation to ban pregnant teens from resuming studies.

Addressing journalists at his residence over the weekend, Dr Lusaka said such legislation would help curb rising cases of teenage pregnancies in the country.

“The current situation where teen girls can return to the classroom after delivery and even when pregnant is contributing to the normalisation of the issue,” he said.

The governor's stance goes against the UNICEF laws that hold that a child has an absolute right to education and not even a pregnancy can deny her the right.

Lusaka cited St Aquinas Chesikaki Secondary School in Mt Elgon, where 54 girls are pregnant.

The governor maintained that prohibiting pregnant girls from attending classes would act as a deterrent against irresponsible behaviour.

He also highlighted the legal consequences for men who impregnate schoolgirls, emphasizing the existing laws governing such actions.

Lusaka attributed the high teenage pregnancies in the region to poverty, especially in Mt Elgon and incest.

Expressing concern over the situation, the governor shared insights gained from forums where affected girls recounted their experiences.

Poverty and the lack of sanitary pads emerged as key contributors to teenage pregnancies.

In response to the alarming statistics placing Bungoma in the lead in teenage pregnancies, the county has garnered support from organizations such as UN Women, former Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Barasa’s foundation, Forum for African Women Educationalists, Maendeleo Ya Wanawake, and RMNCAH Network.

These organizations are collaborating to distribute sanitary pads to girls across the wards in the county.

Governor Lusaka affirmed his commitment to addressing teenage pregnancy, announcing a stakeholders meeting scheduled for Wednesday.

The forum, involving Members of Parliament, Members of County Assembly, education stakeholders, and civil society organizations, aims to devise comprehensive solutions for the challenges faced by the education sector and teenage pregnancy.

"We have organized a forum that will involve MPs, MCAs, education stakeholders, and CSOs to discuss the problems affecting the education sector and find the way forward," Lusaka stated.

He expressed optimism that through collaborative efforts, Bungoma will witness significant transformation by June.