The Police have issued a stern warning to teachers, learners, and the general public against ridiculing students who got pregnant under the COVID-19 lockdown but are back in school to study ahead of their final examinations.
The warning comes after candidate students returned to school and the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) allowing pregnant girls to register for their final exams.
“You are all aware the COVID-19 period has been burdensome for girls more than boys, especially in unsupervised/uncontrolled settings. As a result, girls were vulnerable to sexual abuse, pregnancy, and even child marriages,” the Police said in a Monday night statement.
“Even with the new developments, girls with early pregnancies are still faced with challenges of returning to school which included, fear of being ridiculed with discriminated against, shyness, low self-esteem, fear of being frowned at and labeled young mothers, harassment from peers,” the Police added.
The statement said: “We would like to warn teachers, parents, fellow students and the public (including neighborhoods), against acts of discrimination and stigmatization of these pregnant girls.”
The Police also said some of the parental attitudes and the insensitive school environments and other public spaces might work against the furtherance of education for these pregnant girls.
“Already on social media, we can see people making fun and mockery of pregnant pupils. Instead of discriminating against them, we need to let the girls know the prospects of returning to school, and that they have the potential to excel and overcome the challenges they are facing,” the Police said.
The Police called upon “all headteachers, parents, guardians, LCs and other stakeholders to ensure students who are with early pregnancies, are protected and continue to participate in class and extracurricular activities”.
“For those in advanced pregnancies reasonable adjustments in the learning environment and allow time for missed work in their homes. A pregnant student has the same education rights as every other girl student.”