By Christophe Nyeko
ACHOLI: Atleast over 53 senior women teachers and Matrons from 40 both private and government grand headed primary and secondary schools in west Acholi have been trained on how to handle the health related issues of adolescent girls so as to curb high levels of teenage pregnancies and school dropout which is reportedly shoot-up.
The training was organized by the international medical centre (IMC) over the weekend where the trainees were equipped with the fundamental basic of counseling and guidance, knowledge on sex education and menstrual health.
Rachael Kutegeka the Business Manager at IMC told UG ReportS that the adolescent’s health training is one of the initiatives the IMC which has got 23 medical centers in country and part of the Kampala international hospital have resorted to do in order to curve teenage pregnancies and school dropout by adolescents before completing the two cycle of education.
The training which was under the theme “help adolescents thrive and live healthier lives” was purposely to equip the senior women teachers who are constantly interfacing with these adolescent girls.
”As IMC we have imparted them with knowledge on adolescent’s health so that they are able to mentor and equip the adolescent rightfully because they (SWTs) are considered as mentors, mothers, teachers, health workers, investors, councilors and career guides. We are now expecting that they are going to give our adolescent girls accurate information then we are going to have a positive change in girl’s child education. She noted.
According to Kutegeka , adolescent is a person changing from childhood to adulthood therefore they need to handled carefully, as they are in their stage of imploration and discovery hence making them prone to risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases such as Urinary Tract Infection, Pelvic Inflammatory Diseases, Human Immune Virus and teenage pregnancies because their decisions are not informed.
Kutegeka however attributed the upsurge in teenage pregnancies registered during the two years lockdown where Acholi sub region only registered of 21,000 cases of teenage pregnancies to improper sex education citing that if they (adolescents) have proper sex education they would have made an informed decision.
She however summoned the parents, teachers and caregivers to build good relationships with their children and encourage their children to build good self esteem.
“I have witnessed that Parents have abandoned their duty of parenting to the teachers and the school but as a responsible parent you should build good deeds with your children so that they can be open to trust you with any issues disturbing them whether being in a private or public home or at school”. She advised.
The report revealed by SWTs from various schools in Gulu city shows that learners on their resumption to school on the 10th January 2022 they have become sexually active as they were exposed to bad practices during the lockdown, on these reason Kutegeka strongly encouraged the SWTs to give these learners accurate sex information.
She however discouraged parents who have allowed their daughter neither to abort nor choose contraceptives as a method of curving pregnancies but emphasized Parent to Build ethics and set family goals for their children to follow.
“We are in Africa and as Ugandans we have moral so when the parent go ahead and choose for contraceptive for their daughter, they are totally killing the moral that the woman should have because they are encouraging their daughter to go and open their legs, to sleep with whomever need sex. All they fear is seeing their daughter pregnant. It’s therefore wrong for the parents to choose to protect their girls through contraceptives while they are actually spoiling their future. Beside pregnancy, sex has very many others issues and implication. You can get STDs so it’s unfortunate that parents fear pregnancy rather than HIV. To me I would really discourage it but I encouraged the parents that the best thing to do is to show love to their daughters and teach them the right ways. Giving them contraceptives is not the solution, you are giving them more harm than good”.
Meanwhile Phoebe Joyce Otto a senior women teacher at Gulu High School said that some young girls who have been engaged in commercial sex work during the lockdown are also back at school and addressing these challenges is very hard.
Joyce revealed to UG Reports some of these girls are coming to seek false leave of school claiming they want to go out for medication or even jumping over the wall at night and going out for sex because they are used too, she revealingly continued that some of these girls have informed her office openly that they could not managed for a t least without having sex.
“The training is timely, The Modules we learn will help us because many of the matrons are not medics and many schools do not have school nurses. I can now do the right things because it has enlightened me on the little knowledge I was having,” she noted.
Joyce noticed that sometimes she struggles to address the girls on menstrual health topics citing that when they approach her with some technical question which she always consult on the internet but now that they have been trained by IMC, she is sure to address her adolescent girl with substantial content.
Joyce Okello, another trainee and a senior female teacher from Mother Ludia Nursery and primary school said they have been involved in unhealthy talks from neighbors and peers which has affected them physically, emotionally, mentally socially and physiologically.
She then urged that it is the collective responsibilities to help these learners become the good citizens.
However Okello implored the parents to be closer to their children so that they don’t get access to wrong information.
“Do not let the child have more information than you the parent and as a parent and the care giver you should be mindful on what you says to which age group regarding sexual related issues because children are in their discovery stages ”she warned.
Okello however called up Ministry of Education and Sports and developing partners and other well-wishers to constantly take Matrons and senior women teachers to the refresher course so that they are able to handle the girls who are now sexually active and have lost focus in education.
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