Education CS Amina Mohamed chats with form four candidates of Mama Ngina Secondary School a few minutes before KCSE exams. Image courtesy, ipsnews

According to recent media reports; high number of girls are failing to sit for their final secondary school examinations (KSCE) part of the worrying reasons for this is due to teenage pregnancy.

Kenya’s Education Cabinet Secretary, Amina Mohamed in a recent press briefing stated that,  “We must have this conversation. We cannot bury our heads in the sand. It is happening to our children, our sisters, and even our young brothers. We will deal with it or it will not go away”.

According to a report by the Population Council, Homa Bay County is characterized by high unintended teenage pregnancy rates. Despite a policy that allows teenage mothers to return to school, the County has a high female school dropout rate. Past research in the region has highlighted three main hurdles:

  • School personnel lack clarity about the re-entry policy.
  • Teenage mothers, their parents, and their communities are unaware of the rights of teen mothers to return to school.
  • Ministries of Education have neglected to monitor the school re-entry of teen mothers.

The Council has designed, is currently implementing, and evaluating a program in Kenya to help teenage mothers return to school. They have partnered with various stakeholders like; Well Told Story, a Kenya-based, Emmy Award-winning social communications design and production company, to develop an intervention to enhance the access of teen mothers to education.

The Council has also worked hand in hand with the the Homa Bay County Department of Education in order to ensure measures have been taken to accommodate drop out students and teenage mothers.

Part of the programme is the awareness being spread by a radio program; Ting’ Nyako Malo which means ‘Lift Girls Up’ that is being broadcast on our radio station, Radio Lake Victoria every Friday. The radio program draws on real-life stories of teenage motherhood by interviewing girls who have experienced it and individuals that make up their support system, such as parents/guardians. The program also interviews school principals, staff members from the Homa Bay County Department of Education, the Kenya National Union of Teachers, and other experts, reinforcing messages in support of school re-entry for girls who have been pregnant.

There have been remarkable changes since the initiation of this programme since, some girls who were out of school due to pregnancy have returned, many brought back to school by their principals after policy dialogues to raise the awareness of principals to girls’ right to education and re-entry after pregnancy.