The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Mrs. Janet Museveni, has expressed concern over the increasing rate of pregnancies among school-going children. Mrs. Museveni said teenage and unintended pregnancies were common because of casual sexual intercourse among the youth.
She also expressed concern over the rising infections rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among young people. She made the remarks on Saturday during the closure of Life Skills Summit for secondary school student leaders at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds in Kampala.
The two-day summit was organised by the education ministry in collaboration with the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLAD) for which Mrs. Museveni is the current patron. She added that there was a rising scourge of alcohol and drug abuse among the youth.
Without giving specific figures, Mrs. Museveni noted that statistics on teenage pregnancies and HIV prevalence from the health sector surveys were worrying.
“The effects of these on education are being seen in terms of low learning achievements and high school dropouts, especially among the girls,” she said.
Mrs. Museveni said the Government was fully aware of the threats and challenges to the young people and that they were being responded to, citing the Presidential Initiative on AIDS Strategy to Youth (PIASCY) programme.
“Today, we have enhanced our response through the formulation of the National Sexuality Education Framework, which I had launched last year, but whose implementation I have delayed in order to ensure total buy-in from our key stakeholders,” Mrs. Museveni said.
The National Strategy to End Child Marriage 2014/2015 to 2019/2020 indicates that teenage pregnancies have been persistently high over time with a slight decline from 43% in 1995 to 31% 2001, to 25% in 2006 and to 24% in 2011.
However, the 2016 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) indicated that more than a third (39%) of women aged between 20 to 49 years give birth before they turn 18. The 2016 UDHS, indicated that the median age at first marriage is 18.7 years among women and 23.3 years among men.
The report further indicated that the median age at first intercourse among women aged 20 to 49 in Uganda is 17.1 years and that 8% of women aged between 20 to 49 have had sex by 15 and 62% by age of 18.