The Bungoma County Government and stakeholders have agreed on measures to take in a bid to tackle teen pregnancies head-on using.
Alarmed by a surge in teenage pregnancies and HIV infections, Bungoma county stakeholders have united behind a raft of measures to curb the crisis, barely hours after Governor Ken Lusaka kicked-off a heated debate that took over the country like a storm.
Lusaka, commenting on a statement he is said to have made earlier that teen mothers be stopped from resuming school, clarified that he was referring to the times he was in school where teen mothers were discriminated upon.
He noted that he never meant what was reported by some media outlets (The Star was the most prominent), an error he regretted.
“I said during our time when we were growing up, it was a taboo to get pregnant…you would not go to school because of even peer pressure. . You’d be laughed at and ridiculed and be a laughing stock in the village. That’s what I exactly said. I didn’t say that girls should be banned from going to school and I want it corrected,” he said.
“Why didn’t they report when I said that those who have impregnated school children should be arrested by the County Commander,” he posed.
The resolutions, reached at a meeting convened by Lusaka on Tuesday, January 16, focused on education, parental responsibility, and legal reforms.
“I am utterly shattered by the ballooning numbers,” declared Lusaka, citing a recent report showing at least 26,149 teen mothers and 1,679 HIV-positive girls aged 10-24 in Bungoma by June 2023.
To combat the trend, stakeholders agreed on guiding and counseling programmes in schools, encouraging chaplaincy and mentorship, reintroducing pregnancy testing in schools and holding parents accountable.
Further, they agreed on boosting school security and feeding programmes, supporting menstrual hygiene programmes, regular stakeholder forums, including the boda boda sector as well as stricter measures against teachers involved with students.
They also agreed on faster legislation on gender-based violence and the “triple threat” (teenage pregnancy, HIV, and school dropout), rescue centers, counseling clinics, and treatment programmes for teen mothers, mentorship for both girls and boys and finally, promoting collective parenting, role models, and family time.
Governor Lusaka emphasised reviewing laws and policies on pregnancy tests in schools, calling for “concerted efforts to combat this menace.”
He linked the spike to declining academic performance, evident in recent national exam results.
The county government has already implemented various interventions, but the new measures signal a renewed commitment to protecting Bungoma’s teens.