By Jeremiah Chamakany.
Marigat Integrated Primary School in Baringo County, a school with a population of not less a thousand pupils is a case study in the war against teenage pregnancies.
Teenage pregnancy is a scourge that is threatening to reverse the gains so far achieved in the advancement of girl-child rights in education.
For the last three years, the school has reported zero pregnancy cases and is one of the schools that has seen a good number of girls transition to join some of the best girls secondary schools in the country.
A tour of the school by Education News unearthed some of the most amazing strategies the school has employed to help raise awareness in enlightening the adolescent population, especially in matters that touch on reproductive health. According to the school Head Teacher, William Kipng’ok, the school has a total 591 girls and 618 boys. “They are our children and we cannot gamble with their precious lives. In partnership with World Vision, a Non Governmental Organization operating in the region, we encourage our pupils to open their hearts in our discussions about the dangers of peer pressure, pre-marital sex, and sexually transmitted diseases. Our partners visit the school twice in a month, purposely to show educational films with a theme to encourage our pupils to desist from premarital sex”, said Dina Lagat, the head of guidance and counseling education.
“At the school, girls are encouraged not to use contraceptives, but to abstain from sex. Total abstinence is very possible no matter their sexual maturity,” she said.
According to Lagat, ‘contraceptives have the potential to damage a young girl’s future reproductive health, but worse than everything, saying yes to contraceptives gives a false impression that pre-marital sex or promiscuity is something a girl or a boy should be proud of.
“We are happy to let the world know that for the last three years, no girl has dropped out of our school because of pregnancy. Our counseling department rounds up all the pupils, all the way down from Standard Four to Standard Eight and tell them the truth about their reproductive health”, said the school Deputy head teacher Evaline Chirchir.
Marigat Sub-County is a cosmopolitan region with a rapidly growing population fueled by an influx of many agricultural investors eying the irrigation sector.
The security situation in Baringo-Turkana and Laikipia borders has also played a role in teenage pregnancies. Marigat is the home of the many refugees from as a far as Mukutani, Enoosukuro, Kapedo and Lomelo where several schools have closed.
“It is sad that many girls, including a nine year old have been impregnated at the nearby poverty ridden slums of Kampi Turkana,” she said.
According Peter Lobu of USAID programme on Gender based violence sensitization campaigns within Marigat, sexually adventurous men are now running after the young primary school going girls because, they believe them to be free from the deadly HIV virus.
They lure them with goodies their parents cannot afford to buy them.