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High school drop out of girls due to pregnancy and early marriages

I recently travelled to Rukungiri (with my team members), a rural area in Uganda where we had gone to assess the school where our SHIP project intends to conduct sexual education sessions beginning next year. We were shocked to learn that in one particular secondary school of about 300 students, 54 girls had dropped out of school in 2010 alone due to pregnancy (24) and marriage (30). This explains the magnitude of challenges girls face while trying to get an education in rural Uganda. The headteacher was happy to receive the project in her school but has also requested the SHIP project to train the teachers too on how they can handle their students in regard to sexuality issues.

However, our challenge now is resource mobilization to undertake such good recommendations. It is my hope that through such networks we can share ideas on how this project can have a greater impact on the lives of the adolescents in Uganda

Comments

nilima's picture

what is the school age

what is the school age there?24/30 years old is the new thing i have heard!!

ikirimat's picture

School age

Good question. These are girls aged 13-17 years. I am still compiling the report but i will love sharing it with you.

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."


nilima's picture

ya i am interested to know

ya i am interested to know about the girls going to school there, it is something new for me!! And i am also interested to know are those girls are aware of their reproductive health and care?

Introduction
The Sexual Health Improvement Project (SHIP) was conceived following a training course on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) and HIV/AIDS prevention in Israel, attended by a team from Population Secretariat in 2007. Between June 28 – July 8th 2010, this team together with three trainers from Israel trained 24 people in Sexual Health Education at River Side Hotel in Rukungiri District.

SHIP deemed it a priority to train Sexual Health Educators (SHEs) from the community and attach them to selected schools to provide sexual health skills to adolescents as a strategy for continuity and sustainability of the programme. The trainers were identified from youth groups, training institutions such as nursing training schools, health centers, education institutions, and religious institutions as well as the business community.
At the end of the training, the participants gained skills to use in sensitization of young people in matters regarding their sexuality. They are now able to effectively impart knowledge to young people with confidence and enhance acceptability. The trained Sexual Health Educators (SHEs) were divided into 6 teams of 4 persons each (2 male and 2 female). Each team shall hold an hour’s session with its target group once every two weeks for three school terms, starting with the first school term of 2011.

In consultation with the district leadership and technocrats, six secondary schools in which the SHEs will be conducting sessions were identified. Population Secretariat will facilitate the SHEs with transport to conduct sessions in these schools. The Project team at Population Secretariat shall play a coordination, monitoring and evaluation role. It is against this background that a team of two members from POPSEC made a visit to Rukungiri District on December 1 – 3, 2010 to meet the head teachers of the selected schools. The Head teachers were given official communication from the Director -POPSEC informing them about their nomination and the subsequent sessions that will be conducted in their schools. These letters were also copied to the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), District Education Officer (DEO) and District Health Officer(DHO).

The six selected schools are;
1. Nyabiteete Senior Secondary School in Buyanja Sub County
2. Nyakagyeme Senior Secondary School in Nyakagyeme Sub County
3. Kagunga Seed Secondary School in Rukungiri Municipality
4. Rukungiri Central School in Rukungiri Municipality
5. Bwambara Modern Vocational School in Bwambara Sub County
6. St. Williams Senior Secondary School Rwengiri in Bugangari Sub County

Objectives of the visit
The purpose of the visit was;
1. To introduce SHIP and SHEs to the head teachers of the selected schools.
2. To inform SHEs of the schools to which they have been attached and when they are expected to commence the sessions.
3. To provide the reporting format to the SHEs.
4. To enhance the relationship between POPSEC – SHIP, Rukungiri District leadership and the head teachers of the selected schools.

Besides achieving the objectives of the visit, the team also made a visit to St. Charles Lwanga Hospital, Nyakibaale on the invitation of one of the SHEs where Ms. Catherine Biira Promise gave the student Nurses a 2 and a half hours inspiration talk regarding their sexuality and career paths. It was an interactive session in which girls discussed about beauty, rape, defilement, unwanted pregnancies among other challenges in their community. A total of 63 girls between the ages of sixteen and twenty were inspired and they confessed that such a talk to them was long over due. They requested for more sexual health education sessions. Due to the limited time that was available, some of the girls wrote down their questions/issues which portrayed dilemma situations that need urgent attention. Ms. Catherine Biira followed them up with phone calls and discussed the issues with each student respectively.

Findings from the visit
The team had dialogues with the different district leaders, head teachers and some of the trained SHEs. The team gave the background and purpose of the visit to the head teachers who did not know what SHIP was all about and handed over letters from POPSEC, which introduce SHIP and the SHEs to their schools. The team highlighted the topics to be covered and requested the head teachers to allocate the SHEs some time with effect from term I of 2011.

The findings from the visit include:

• A big number of students/ adolescents are already sexually active.
• There is a very high female students dropout rate in some of the schools due to pregnancy and teenage marriages. This was particularly noted in Nyakagyeme S. S where the head teacher revealed that since she joined the school in February 2010, 58 girls have dropped out. Of these, 24 girls dropped out due to pregnancy, some were taken for marriage and others dropped out due to other social problems. Out of the 24 girls who had dropped out in S.3, 3 of them managed to go back to school, but unfortunately after apparently terminating the pregnancies.

• Several young girls are procuring abortions though abortion is illegal in Uganda.
• There is laxity in the disciplinary measures both in schools and homes due to the introduction of Universal Secondary Education; since parents are no longer toiling to get school fees for their children, they are no longer as strict on their children to ensure that they do not drop out of school since that would mean that they had just wasted their money.
• There is low self esteem among girls and many of them have no idea why they are in school.
• There is a serious lack of role models to whom young people can look up to and aspire to emulate.
• The trained SHEs are still vigilant and ready to start the sessions in schools

Recommendations
From the different dialogues, the following recommendations came out strongly;
• All teachers in the district should be trained so that they can also work alongside the trained SHEs to help out their students, since the SHEs can only handle smaller numbers and yet all the students need the information.
• All the adolescents in the schools should be talked to instead of selecting a few from the whole school
• Train more SHEs to be able to spread over the entire district since many girls and boys are vulnerable
• Role models are important

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."


nilima's picture

Dear Ikirimat, i am so

Dear Ikirimat,

i am so thankful to you you have posted all the details here. I am impressed by the execution of the work here! they are very systematic and clear. However i didn't find the the age of the school students, if you find please put them also. And this report is very fruitful to read and we can learn many things from here, like first training the head teachers for sustainability. Its also amazing that they did find out that most of the girls were sexually active and it is important to let them know about the sexual health.

Girls doing the abortion is the illegal but because of the lack of education they are going through it.

Thank you so much for posting it here!!

SAsong's picture

Hi Grace!

This sounds like a great project and very much needed. I just printed out your report because I am on my way home, but would love to help out on this project. My current work is in HIV behavioral interventions and my focus population are adolescents and young women (13-29). Some interventions I have worked with focus around values, self-worth, assertive communications, safer sex negotiation, and condom demonstrations. I will most likely be in Uganda next year God willing to work on my Threads of Our Fabric project and it would be great to meet you onsite if possible... I look forward to connecting with you soon! Hugz!!!

ikirimat's picture

Very Welcome

Dear Sis,

I am just delighted to know that there are people out there who are committed to the course of our future generation. It even makes me more encouraged to hear that you are very much interested in visiting these girls (community) personally. I and my team will be honoured to arrange the visit. I am sure your visit will uplift and encourage these young people.

Lets keep in touch

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."


SAsong's picture

Yes! Let's!!

Keep in touch =) I am wrapping up to go spend time with family, but I will be in touch next year. Happy Holidays and Peace, Love, & Joy wishes for 2011!!!

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