The conventional practice of expelling pregnant teenagers from schools has been ruled out in Ekiti state. This was made known by the first lady of Ekiti, Bisi Fayemi during an advocacy and women empowerment tour in the state.
On Tuesday, Bisi reiterated the “Operation Keep Girls in School” policy by Governor Kayode Fayemi’s administration which maintains that girls of school age will not be denied the opportunities of education under any circumstances.
The first lady affirmed that any girl who gets pregnant while in school can “with the new law be allowed to continue her study” and after delivery, she can return to school if she pleases.
Nevertheless, Bisi openly reprimanded teenage girls who get pregnant as a result of engaging in consensual sexual relationships urging parents and guardians to always monitor the activities of their female children and wards.
According to a report by All Africa, schools across the continent believe that isolating pregnant girls and excluding them from school property is a positive move to ensure that they do not ‘corrupt’ other girls into pregnancy.
The article highlights the fact that most teenage girls are forced to drop out of school due to the high level of stigma associated with pregnancy. They are often detached from their peers and communities because of the shame.
Bisi agreed that some schoolgirls get pregnant from rape or sexual abuse by their teachers in school and that is why parents “must monitor their female children in school” and educate them on sex and sexual predators.
Nigeria continues to remain a “closed society” where sexual issues are not discussed freely. Over time, advocates for sex education to be taught in primary, secondary and tertiary schools have met stiff resistance especially from religious leaders who say sex education would promote immorality.
Nonetheless, ensuring that an in-depth curriculum on sex education is taught at different levels presents a remedy to curb the rate of teenage pregnancies in Nigeria. Teachers should not shy away from topics centred on puberty, sexual orientation, sexually transmitted diseases, amongst others.
Subsequently, access to this knowledge helps to develop a sense of value in the young and simultaneously tackles the issue of teenage pregnancies. This will inevitably reduce the number of schoolgirls who are forced to abandon their education due to unplanned pregnancies.
By Treasure Nnabugwu.