THE high rate of adolescents engaging in unprotected sex in Eastern Province is genuinely worrying.
That over 24,700 girls aged between 12 and 20 fell pregnant in all the 13 districts in the province in 2018 should concern all stakeholders; Government – especially education authorities, traditional leaders, civil society and the church.
There is urgent need for enhancing awareness programmes.
There is urgent need for a stakeholders’ meeting to map out this problem – getting down to its root cause and how it may be reversed.
One of the reasons is how culture perceives such issues.
In urban areas, this may sound a taboo but in a rural set-up, young mothers and fathers are glorified.
The economy also plays a part because in rural areas, fewer parents can sustain their daughters’ educational needs up to Grade 12.
Besides, in rural areas, attaining Grade 12 is not prestigious.
Those young ones, especially those who are yet to become pregnant or exposed to pre-marital sex, need incentives to be kept in school.
It is also a reflection that programmes such as the Girls Education Women’s Empowerment and Livelihoods (GEWEL) project, re-entry policy, which is designed for girls who fall pregnant to get back into school after they have had babies, as well as the HeForShe, a solidarity campaign for the advancement of gender equality, are yet to make impact for those it is intended.