Special schools to accommodate young mothers have been set up in Nyeri and Kajiado counties, giving hope to those who had buried the idea of ever going back to school after getting pregnant.
This is in a bid to reduce the discrimination that these young girls face when they resume school. Here, they are surrounded by people who are going through the same thing, making them less judgmental of their situation.
Expected decline in teenage dropouts as schools for young mothers open
One of the schools, Serene Haven Secondary in Nyeri, allows young mothers the space to finish their education while taking care of their children as these young girls live with their babies in the dormitories. When in class, they leave them under the care of the matrons and occasionally check on them during breaks. Greenland Girls School in Kajiado county has also enrolled 90 mothers aged 13-21.
Other schools are also coming up to support young girls to continue with their education after giving birth.
Kenya's re-entry policy allows pregnant girls to stay in school for as long as they want but prevents them from resuming studies until six months after delivery. The policy does not however, take into consideration the difficulties that transitioning back to school brings with it.
This is especially because of the stigma and isolation that comes with getting pregnant while in school. Pregnancy is thus a life-altering moment that has seen most young girls put a stop to their learning. The environment they carry their pregnancy in or go back to after delivery has been confirmed by most as a traumatic experience. Aside from the constant side eyes and whispers from their peers, they face shuns and mockery from their teachers too.
This move was also prompted by the alarming rise in teenage pregnancies during the pandemic. Data from the health ministry confirms more than 328,000 cases in the past year. These numbers affect the school dropout rates in the country, and in turn affect the education goal.
Inasmuch as students are encouraged to go back to school after getting pregnant, some teachers expressed their opinion that the policy be changed. According to them, it is uncomfortable giving other students lessons against early pregnancies in the presence of these young mothers. Others support the policy, and encourage that teachers be sensitized on how to handle teen mothers with empathy and understanding.
Featured Image: The Guardian