A fortnight ago I spoke to a head teacher of a local primary school back in the village about teen pregnancies. He told me although his school has not been affected, the problem is bigger than we think.
“This is a societal problem. It starts right from home, school and then spreads to society”. The veteran teacher, who has three years left to retire from service, blamed poverty, lack of exposure to sex education and parents’ inability to instil discipline in their children.
A journalist told me the other day the reason why teen pregnancies are highlighted during exam time is because the whole nation’s attention is on the exercise. He said the cases happen every day and go unreported.
It is said parents have abdicated the responsibility of taking care of their children, counselling them and spending time with them to teachers. For instance, a child in a day school leaves home as early as 5am and comes back as a late as 6pm. They get home tired, do their homework, take supper and go to bed in readiness for the new day.
On weekends, mothers have no time for their daughters. They are busy preparing for chama, weddings and funerals. The girls are left vulnerable to jobless boys in the village whose only work is to drink cheap liquor and smoke bhang. Society seems to have neglected the girls to the mercy of such men.
Very few parents are courageous enough to sit their daughters down and talk to them about the effects of engaging in early sex. In fact, most parents tend to believe that is the teacher’s role. Parents must be on the forefront in educating their children about the consequences of engaging early sex. Statistics show that teens are more vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases than married couples.
In the coastal towns of Kilifi and Kwale; the border towns of Busia, Malaba and Namanga; as well as the lakeside towns of Kisumu, Homa Bay and Migori, girls are more vulnerable to early marriage because of their exposure to people from different cultures and backgrounds.
Most girls fall prey to easy money offered by rich men seeking a good time. Some teachers prey on their students. Just the other day, a head teacher was arrested after eloping with his former pupil who sat her KCPE exam this year. Such cases are rampant.
Just this week, a local television station highlighted the plight of primary school girls in Bungoma who have been impregnated and left with their poor parents. Men waylay girls in bushes, lure them with niceties and then sleep with them. The end result is unwanted pregnancies and parents are left to grapple with the problem.
Lack of sex education for our children, both at home and school, is a major contributor to teen pregnancies, which have become a shame to society and an impediment to girls education. The girl child is over-exposed to uncaring men who are hopeless and seem to have given up on life due to joblessness and lack of a source of income. Impregnating a Standard Seven pupil to them is just like eating ugali with sukuma wiki, and life goes on.
Something needs to be done to protect our girls from paedophiles and village boys. We need to set time on the school timetable for sex education. Parents too must create time for their children and have father-son and mother-daughter talks on the subject. This will save the girl-child from embarrassment.
Director of communications, ODM