In Kenya, early pregnancy refers to pregnancy that occurs in the life of a girl below the country’s age of consent (which is 18 years).
According to a 2020 report by the Ministry of Education on school re-entry in early Learning and basic education institutions,Circumstances that could lead to early pregnancy include but are not limited to: lack of self-awareness or sexuality education, peer pressure, poverty, drugs and substance abuse, defilement and early marriages.
“Early pregnancy has been shown to be the main reason for school drop-out of adolescent girls. For example, approximately 70% of out-of-school girls aged 13 — 19 in Homa Bay County reported having dropped out of school due to pregnancy (Undie et al, 2016).” reads part of the report.
Steps to be taken if a learner is confirmed pregnant at school
According to the MoE report,the following steps shall be followed to attend to a learner who becomes pregnant while in school:
1. The school shall inform the parent/guardian as soon as possible if they are not already aware.
2. The pregnant learner shall be put in a guidance and counselling programme by the guidance and counselling teacher, or through referral to appropriate services. The school and the parents/guardians, in collaboration with a nearby health facility, should ensure she has access to age-appropriate reproductive health services such as antenatal care.
3. Schools shall document communication with the concerned learner and parents/guardians explaining the school re-entry policy.
4. The school, the learner and parents/guardians shall sign a committal letter for the pregnant learner to re-enter school six (6) months after delivery, which provides time to nurse the baby. The learner shall re-enter school at the beginning of the next calendar year.
5. A learner who is pregnant shall be allowed to remain in school as long as possible in line with existing education policies in Kenya.
6. A learner who is pregnant shall be allowed to sit for national examinations if her health condition permits. The school head and staff in collaboration with parents/guardians shall take all reasonable steps to accommodate the learner’s learning, health and maternal needs during the examination period.
Re-entry of learners who dropped out of school due to pregnancy
1. Learners who become pregnant shall be re-admitted to the same class/form/grade they were in before they left the school to deliver the baby unconditionally.
However, if the learner wishes to join another school, she will be supported by the school head through the Sub-County Director of Education to gain admission into another school. In case of a problem, county education officers will be required to assist in the placement.
2. In case a learner becomes pregnant more than once, she shall be allowed re-entry into a learning institution as long as she is within the mandatory schooling age. The institution will provide the concerned learner and parents/guardians with necessary guidance.
3. Learners who have attained the age of 18 years shall be advised to enroll in Adult and Continuing Education or vocational training centres to complete their schooling.
Steps to be taken in regard to the person responsible for the pregnancy
1. A pregnant learner shall be encouraged to disclose the identity of the person responsible for the pregnancy.
If the person responsible for the pregnancy is a school boy or is under the age of 18 years, he shall be given guidance and counselling about his responsibilities by the guidance and counseling teacher, or through referral to appropriate services.
2.If the person responsible for the pregnancy is an adult (above 18 years), the school head shall report the case to the Ministry of Education office, police and the Children’s Department.
The school head shall also advise the learner and parent/guardian to report the case to these and other relevant agencies.
3.If the responsible person is a teacher, disciplinary measures shall be taken in accordance with the TSC Code of Conduct and Ethics (COCE) and Code of Regulations for Techers (CORT). In addition, the school management will advise the learner and the parent/guardian to take legal action.
4.If the responsible person is a caregiver, the school management shall report to the Ministry of Education office and Department of Children Services and other relevant agencies for further action.