Kenya: Kuppet Rejects ‘Demeaning’ Pregnancy, FGM Tests for Schoolgirls


Photo: George Sayagie/Nation Media Group

Pupils who underwent an alternative rite of passage in August 2018 at Eselengei Girls’ Secondary School in Narok as parts of efforts against FGM

Teachers in Narok County have dismissed the directive by Commissioner George Natembeya for all upper primary and secondary school girls checks for pregnancy and female genital mutilation.

The tests are demeaning and a violation of rights, said Charles Ng’eno, the county’s secretary-general of the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet).

RIGHTS

Mr Ng’eno said the directive does not fall under their mandate so teachers should ignore it.

“We shall not it because it infringes on the rights of learners,” he said, adding that no learner had undergone FGM while in school as the rite of passage is popular during the December holidays.

“The directive is in bad faith. We cannot be asked to invade the privacy of our learners. We have a duty to teach and we shall do that. What the commissioner wants us to do falls within the mandate of parents and provincial administrators,” he added.

The Kuppet official welcomed Mr Natembeya’s efforts to curb cases of pregnancy, as the number for Narok is high, but noted the importance of consultations instead of a “one-man directive”.

“Parents and stakeholders agree that the issue of teenage pregnancies must be addressed but the approach by the county commissioner is totally wrong,” said Mr Ng’eno.

Regarding FGM, he said, “How shall we undo a cut that has already taken place? We need ways of stopping it before it happens.”

Members of the public took to social media with their views, following the directive that Mr Natembeya issued in November 2017, many terming it unacceptable.

One Esther Ndilai said, “How can this happen in modern day Kenya? It’s illegal and uncouth to check a girl’s private parts.”

TOUGH TALK

The commissioner had reiterated that pregnancy and FGM tests would be conducted on all girls as schools reopened on Thursday.

He directed school heads to ensure the students undergo the tests at local health facilities.

The tough-talking administrator said on Wednesday that he formed a team to investigate teen pregnancies, by going to schools to gather data. The team comprises officers from the provincial administration, health, education and gender affairs departments.

At 40 per cent, Narok is leading nationally in teenage pregnancies, according to the latest Demographic Health Survey.

Transmara West sub-county is leading with 157 cases and is followed by Narok East with 30 that were reported to police and other authorities.

Mr Natembeya further revealed that Narok South had 18 cases, Narok North and South 15 and Transmara East 13 cases reported in 2017.

He said a special anti-FGM police unit had been formed and tasked with investigating the cases during the holidays.

Last year, some 233 school girls from eight primary and secondary institutions dropped from school due to pregnancy. They were aged between 10 and 19.

Over 60 girls failed to sit their national examinations due to pregnancies.

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Publish date : 2019-01-04 06:47:04

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