MINISTRY OF EDUCATION REVISES GUIDELINES ON PREGNANT GIRLS, BOYS TO EQUALLY TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.

Boys will for the first time be penalized for impregnating schoolgirls according to the new guidelines from the ministry of education on pregnant girls returning to school. This follows the decision by government to allow pregnant girls to return to school amid the skyrocketing cases of sexual violence against children resulting into pregnancy. According to the guidelines, the school shall keep in touch with a pregnant girl to monitor what is happening and provide necessary moral, emotional and spiritual support. Counselling for both the girl and her parents shall be continued. For the first time boys will be kept out of school just like girls for tracking purposes to avoid a repeat of the same to other girls. “The guidelines require the school to keep records about a boy who impregnates a girl. This will be useful in tracking him. Such records will be transferred to the boy's new school in case he changes schools. For this reason, schools are required to formally check with the learner's previous school about his involvement in cases of pregnancy.” Reads part of the guidelines. More of the guidelines are stated below. • Efforts shall be made by the headteacher to work with parents to establish the circumstances leading to the pregnancy and obtain information about the father. The school shall support parents to act, including legal if a father of the baby is an adult. For adolescent fathers still at school, the school shall provide counselling. • Those who make the girls pregnant will be exposed as part of tracking and reporting sexual violence against children, provided it is in the best interest of the girl. • If a fellow learner is responsible for the pregnancy, he shall be counselled, and his parents invited to school for counselling. Both the boy and his parents will sign a committal statement to support the girl and the baby. • Each school is expected to have a school health committee with a trained counsellor who maybe a school staff or a counsellor from the nearby health facility to provide general counselling to the learners and testing for pregnancy. • The school shall develop or strengthen mechanisms of following up with the girl until she delivers and returns to school. Schools are expected to come up with a timetable and hold an advocacy school week with activities aimed at preventing teenage pregnancy. • Schools are requested to conduct sexuality education and teach life skills using age-appropriate messages as defined in the national sexuality education framework.

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