Ugandan authorities have reported an increase in teenage pregnancies since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic which forced schools to close for several months.
UNEB Executive Secretary Dan Odongo said excluding the girls from sitting their exams would be a “double jeopardy” and further disrupt their futures as they were already traumatized by their experiences.
“This will also derail the gains of gender inclusiveness attained so far in reducing the disparity between girls and boys registering for their final examinations, and finishing a given academic cycle,” Odongo said.
Odongo, however, made it clear that the body was only pushing for such girls to enjoy their right to an education and did not support the idea of teenage pregnancy.
“While we do not condone teenage pregnancy, we recognize that most of these girls are victims of circumstances, holding unintended pregnancies,” he added.
Registration for this year’s examinations began on October 22 and will run for five weeks.
The problem of early pregnancies is not unique to Uganda. In July, a civil society group in Malawi raised an alarm over a dramatic increase in early pregnancies and child marriages since the onset of the pandemic.
In June, a report in Kenya revealed that more than 3,900 underage girls fell pregnant between January and May, a trend linked to the pandemic.
Teenage pregnancy and childbearing often leads girls to drop out of school, and tends to harm girls’ future education and employment opportunities.