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Senator pushes for law to protect pregnant learners in schools

The Care and protection of Child and Parents Bill, seeks to ensure expectant girls or a child parents realise their right to basic education as they take care of their babies.

The Bill is rooting for the establishment of a National Council for Children’s services that will, in consultation with education cabinet secretary, ensure such children are not subjected to discrimination.

Critics of the Bill have said it is silent on how boys who are still minors, but responsible for the pregnancies, should be handled without subjecting them to the same traumatizing experiences like girls.

It will be illegal for a head teacher to expel a pupil on grounds that they are pregnant and would be a bad example to other learners, if a Bill before Parliament becomes law.

This comes against concerns that some school administrators are still refusing to re-admit child parents, who dropped out due to pregnancy despite policies being in place requiring that such learners be allowed back to school.

“The national and county governments shall formulate policies for the re-admission and integration of children who have dropped out of school by reason of pregnancy,” the Bill says.

Child care centres will be established in the counties to cater for children below three years for the child parents who intend to return to school after giving birth, but, do not have access to child support services.

“This is a child who is already traumatised. It is wrong for some head teachers to parade them and escort them out of schools as if they are criminals,” Senator Elizabeth Ongoro (Nominated) who is the architect of the Bill said on Wednesday.

However, she sought to clarify claims in some media that the Bill is advocating for abortion saying, it has nothing to do with termination of a pregnancy.

Ms Ongoro who said the Bill would be subjected to public participation, added that some of the children who end up as mothers are victims of defilement and it is inhuman to condemn them and leave them to suffer in silence.

“Some are orphans who have ended up being kicked out of homes by relatives for bringing shame to the family yet some were defiled by the same relatives,” the senator said.

The council will also be expected to liaise with head teachers to identify children who are pregnant and who are in need of intervention to enable them realise the rights conferred on a child.

Each learning institution for basic education shall be required to develop a management plan to support any child who falls pregnant.

The Bill that is before the National Assembly — because it also affects the national government — also pushes for creation of a fund that will be used to support vulnerable child parents.

“The Council shall collaborate with other relevant public entities to ensure expectant children and child parents have access to community and state based care support systems,” the Bill reads.

The council may also conduct public or private inquiries into any matter relating to the welfare, care and protection of expectant children and child parents within a county.

The two levels of government have a duty to investigate and come up with appropriate measures to prevent the teenage pregnancies and school dropout rates.

Parents and guardians of the children will be involved in counselling and sensitisation campaigns to encourage the girls not to shy away from returning to school, after pregnancy.

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