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School girls’ pregnancies hit 146 mark in Eastern Equatoria

By James Atem Kuir

The number of school girls who were said to be pregnant in Eastern Equatoria state as a result of closure of schools over coronavirus fears has risen to 146.

Earlier this week, it was reported that the number of school girls who were pregnant were 125 from May when it was reported that the number of pregnant women was just 24.

Yesterday, the acting Director General in the Ministry of Education in Eastern Equatoria  Odom Pula Hillary Okumu was quoted saying on the local radio station Summer FM, that the number of pregnant girls in Eastern Equatoria had increased to146.

 He reported that the latest statistics were collected with the help of schools’ PTAs (Parents Teachers Association) and Payams education inspectors but warns that more cases might still be underreported.  

“We are collecting the data through our county education directors, payam education directors, PTAs and the community of the children also inform us, but these are the only known cases, more girls will be reported as we continue to receive from the counties ,” Hillary said.

He said the persistent occurrence of pregnancies among school girls will be a blow to gains made in improving girl-child admission in schools by partners and education authorities.

He attributed the increase to lack of supervision and plans by national education authorities and partners to engage learners during closure of schools.

He appealed to the national education ministry to avail plans to stem the widespread pregnancies among school girls across the country.

“The government is not to blame, neither the community but we should sit down with the PTAs and the stake holders on the ground to forge ways to protect our boys and girls and to better understand why they are resorting to early marriage.

“We need to design ways so that these girls are protected during this lockdown,” he added.

Late last month, UNESCO, UNICEF and Save the Children called on the government to reconsider its Covid-19 measures on closure of schools but the undersecretary in the Ministry of General Education, Dr. Kuyok Abol Kuyok said  they couldn’t open schools claiming that the pandemic was going to worsen.

However when contacted for comment in regards to number of pregnant girls which is rising he could not respond.  

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