A Ugandan health report has revealed that at least 6,300 girls were impregnated in Iganga District during the two-year lockdown in the country.
The Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, closed all institutions of learning in March last year to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Ms Deborah Mwesigwa, the Iganga Resident District Commissioner (RDC), the information gathered by authorities as schools prepared to reopen revealed that the most affected girls were in those between Primary Five and Senior Three classes.
“The district authorities, including myself, have, therefore, decided that those with advanced pregnancies remain home, together with those who have just given birth,” Ms Mwesigwa said.
“We have found it fit for girls with pregnancies of up to three months to return to school, while learners whose children are above three months old can also be allowed in class so long as their babies remain home.” She spoke.
The Ugandan leadership has however directed headteachers to allow pregnant and lactating girls to resume their classes.
Though this contradicts with the headteacher of Iganga Parents’ Secondary School, Mr Asuman Mpata, who disagrees with the decision to allow pregnant learners in classrooms.
According to him, such a development is only feasible in government-aided schools due to their funding caps which he says may not impact their academic standards.
A report from Marie Stopes Uganda in September last year indicated that young girls, especially in rural areas of Busoga Sub-region, experienced a number of challenges when accessing family planning and health facilities during the Covid-induced lockdown.
In line with the report, during the lockdown, adolescents faced transport challenges when going to health facilities, and while out of school, they lacked information on sexual reproductive health rights.