Teen Pregnancies an Overwhelming Predicament in Kenya
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11/19/2018

Teen Pregnancies an Overwhelming Predicament in Kenya

The just-concluded KCPE and the ongoing KCSE national exams have been an eye opener on the state of teenage pregnancies in the country. By the end of the KCPE exams, a total of ten cases had been reported across the country. A situation that has since seen Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed prompt the Quality Assurance and Standard Department to carry out an immediate investigation into the cases.

“I have asked my quality assurance and standard department to work with relevant departments to investigate the extent of this situation and give me a report for further action,” she said while addressing the press at Langata Women’s Prison where seven candidates had registered for KCPE.

Crisis

She disclosed that preliminary findings indicate that the country could be staring at a looming crisis if the issue of the teenage pregnancies is not affably addressed.

“We have detected a high number of candidates who became mothers during the three days of KCPE,” Amina said. “If this is happening all year round in the country, then we could be facing a real crisis.”

Staggering Statistics

The ministry of education in July 2018, identified seven counties that had reported high cases of teenage pregnancies they included; Narok, Kilifi, Meru, Bungoma, Busia, Migori, Nairobi and Homa Bay. According to the report the highly affected regions comprised of arid and semi-arid land counties, with Narok and Kilifi reporting the highest cases of up to 60%. The report also singles out boda-boda operators of fanning the predicament.

“Cases of child defilement have been accelerated by the youth operating motorcycles who lure young girls into sex in exchange for rides. The factors had in some cases led to school dropouts or poor attendance,” the report reads.

Separate reports from the children’s affair department Kilifi County reveal a total of 13,624 reported pregnancies among school children aged 15 to 19. While presenting the report the County children's Affair Coordinator George Migosi revealed that Kilifi North Sub-county was in the lead with 3,134 cases, closely followed by Magarini with 2,861 and then came Kaloleni with 2,180. Kilifi South and Malindi recorded 1,771 cases each while Ganze and Rabai Sub Counties had 1,362 and 545 cases respectively all of which he attributed was as a result of negligence by parents.

An earlier survey conducted by The Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (2014) revealed that one in every five girls between 15-19 years has begun childbearing with roughly about 13,000 teenage girls dropping out of school annually due to pregnancy. Narok County was singled out as the county that has most cases recording a 40.4%, closely followed by Homabay with 33%, West Pokot recording 28.6%, Tana River with 28.2%, and Nyamira with 27.8% while Nairobi was at 17.8%.

The report highlighted the critical drivers of teenage pregnancy in Kenya which include; early sex debut, early child marriages, school dropout, increase in vulnerable and orphaned children, poverty, unemployment, weak law enforcement, child abuse among others.

Warning

A study by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) also pointed out the high prevalence of sexual harassment of learners aged between 13 and 17 years was by teachers in Kenya.

Education Cabinet Secretary noted that the 2018 KCPE exams saw four candidates write their exams at Kenyatta National Referral and Defence Forces Memorial Hospital in Nairobi.

Nevertheless, the CS promised to hold talks with her health Colleague CS Sicily Kariuki on the establishment of examination facilities to allow affected candidates to sit their exams in a conducive environment.

“I’m going to discuss with my colleague Sicily Kariuki with a view to putting special facilities in hospitals that can be used during examinations to allow candidates to focus on getting the best result they can manage,” said Amina.

Some of the incidents identified included: A 15-year-old girl gave birth shortly before beginning her KCPE exams and named the infant after Education CS Amina Mohamed, an 18-year old girl gave birth to a baby while on her way to school to sit for the national exam at Makongo Primary School in Kitui County.

In a separate incident, two candidates gave birth in Elgeyo Marakwet on day two of KCPE.

In a bid to avert the looming crisis in the country, Education ministry has threatened to arrest parents whose underage daughters are impregnated and fail to report those responsible to the authorities.

Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang cautioned that parents and guardians who are lured into social arrangements with the offenders to sidestep the law would be arrested.

“We shall go to those villages where people make local arrangements. We shall arrest anybody, including the parents, who engage in these backroom deals while they compromise the future of their children,” Dr Kipsang said.

According to the PS, parents of candidates who give birth during exams will be apprehended as those are defilement cases that have not been brought to the attention of authorities.

“One of the issues that came out very strongly is teenage pregnancies. These girls are underage, so we cannot talk of consent. It is actually defilement. This is a question of assault, which makes it a security threat,” Dr Kipsang said.

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