Uganda: Groups seek inclusion of pregnant girls in national examinations
Uganda has a high teenage pregnancy rate and activists maintain that preventing affected girls from sitting for their Primary leaving Examinations (PLE) is unconstitutional and unfair.
The constitution states that all children have a right to education
It is estimated that more than 2,000 girls out of a total of over 300,000 candidates expected to sit for this year’s PLE are pregnant and may miss the crucial examinations.
Teenage pregnancy among school-going girls, the leading cause of school drop-out in Uganda, has largely been blamed on rape, defilement and poor living conditions, among others.
PLE is managed by the Uganda National Examinations Board and reserved for class seven students, who are usually between the ages of 12 and 15.
The executive director of Forum for Education NGOs in Uganda (FENU), Fred Mwesigye condemned the practice at a joint press conference Wednesday in Kampala.
“The constitution states that all children have a right to education,” he said.
“We are concerned that come next Monday when PLE starts, many pregnant girls across the country will not be allowed to sit for their final exams.”
Mwesigye said preventing pregnant girls from sitting for their exams can negatively impact on their future and ability to pursue their education.
“We are making our last call to government and schools to allow the girls to sit for the examinations on Monday.”
FENU’s call was received positively by Uganda’s Minister of State for Higher education, Chrysostom Muyingo and observers believe a reform to allow teenage girls to continue pursuing their educational dreams is in the offing.
“Girls who get pregnant while at school should be given another chance through being allowed to sit for the examinations,” Muyingo said.
However, the idea of allowing pregnant or teenage mothers to sit for the PLE has been met with opposition from some religious groups.
“I disagree with those who want pregnant girls to sit for examinations. They will give bad examples to the other girls,” Reverend Thomas Opio of Saint Augustine church in northern Uganda said.