How Early Pregnancy Has Affected Girl Child Education in Africa

By  Nelly Gachanja

Africa has in the recent times experienced a development boom with a number of countries trying to work towards achieving middle income status in the next couple of years. There is no doubt, a lot of strides have been made in various sectors such as education, infrastructure, health and technology among others.

With a lot of women empowerment programs going on across the continent, women across Africa have managed to make some progress towards being integrated into the mainstream society and enjoying the same privileges like their male counterparts. However, one major problem still bedevils the African continent – the tragedy of teenage pregnancies.

Despite all the positive achievements the continent has achieved, the rate of teenage pregnancies across the continent still remains high especially for rural populations where poverty levels are still high with families struggling to make a living. Compared to urban populations, girls in rural Africa have fallen victim to early pregnancies. Unfortunately, when this happens, the young mothers are incapable of adjusting to their new lives and effectively taking care of their children because of lack of knowledge and resources. In addition, because of poverty, these girls fail to receive proper medical care and attention during the course of the pregnancy.

How Teenage Pregnancies Have Affected Girl Child Education

Most girls with teenage pregnancies never get a chance to compete their education as they’re forced to drop out of school to take care of their new born babies. The sad news is some of the girls affected are bright students who would have had better chances in life to improve their welfare and that of their families.

It has also been noted that early pregnancies negatively affect a child causing them a wide array of mental issues. Even though there have been campaigns to encourage girls to continue with their education after giving birth, there is still a lot of ground to cover.

As a result, girl child enrollment in national exams in various countries across the continent has reduced as many girls meant to be sitting for their exams have dropped out of school because of pregnancies. Governments and education stakeholders have taken note of this trend and are now setting up various organizations to help deal with teenage pregnancies. Many girls who get children when they’re still young have to settle for menial jobs to survive or get married at an early age. This cycle has contributed to rising poverty levels as the girl child continues to be sidelined in the quest for education.

How to Reduce Teenage Pregnancies in Africa

There are proposals by some African governments to introduce laws to punish individuals responsible for making young girls pregnant. Sections of stakeholders have called for authorities to take action against men who make underage girls pregnant and parents who marry off their young girls making them parents at a very young age. There is need to bring into perspective the benefits of educating the girl child and creating awareness especially in rural areas of Africa. Additionally, there should be incentives from the government such as scholarships for bright and needy girls to encourage them complete their education.

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