The number of teenage pregnancies in Narok has hit an all-time high of 40 per cent, surpassing the national average of 18 per cent, the Ministry of Health has said.
On Thursday, an official told headteachers at the 42nd annual Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association conference at Wild Waters in Mombasa that HIV/Aids infections among teenagers were also increasing.
“While the HIV/Aids infection rate did not rise in any of the other age groups in the country in 2016, it made a significant increase among adolescents,” said programme manager, Reproductive and Maternal Health Services Unit in the ministry, Dr Jeanne Patrick.
She made the remarks during her presentation on the national adolescent sexual reproductive health policy of 2015.
The official said that Narok was leading the other 46 counties in the number of teen pregnancies, mainly because of high levels of ignorance on sexual reproductive knowledge.
She noted that most young girls between the age of 10 and 14 have been impregnated by boda boda riders, adding that there was an urgent need to create awareness among perpetrators and the society.
Dr Patrick noted that last year, 24,000 girls aged between 10 and 14 delivered countrywide and an additional 242,000 between the age of 15 and 18.
She said that due to the high number of teenage pregnancies, unsafe abortions and sexually transmitted diseases had increased and, subsequently, a marked increase in maternal mortality among girls aged between 10 and 19.
On average, most teenagers experience their first sexual intercourse at the age of 15, she said, adding that more knowledge on reproductive health contributed to less incidents. Nyeri, for example, has the lowest teen pregnancies because of enhanced knowledge among adolescents, she added.
Other contributory factors to the pregnancies are poverty, sexual abuse, female genital mutilation, drug and substance abuse. She noted that a national policy to empower teenagers with quality information on matters of sexuality was launched in 2015.
She urged school heads to give the correct health information to teenagers, especially on drug abuse, HIV/Aids, gender-based violence and marginalisation, among others.
National Parents Association chairman Nicholas Maiyo said teachers and parents are charged with the responsibility of bringing up children in an upright manner, and urged them to engage more on the issue.
Kenya National Examinations Council chairman George Magoha said the current education system was inadequate with numerous loopholes, making learners to use unorthodox means to acquire fake grades. Speaking at the conference, Prof Magoha said there is a great need for a holistic system that progressively inculcates positive values among learners instead of the present one where values are taught in the classroom.
He also took issue with the society, which has tended to over-emphasise national examinations.
Since the education system was geared towards passing final examinations only, said Prof Magoha, those being examined are bound to use illegal means to acquire top grades.
He called on institutions of learning to adopt own unique value systems befitting their environments and fuse them for both local and external application.
“Such systems should be fused and integrated with the institutions’ vision, mission, and code of conduct, ethics and motto. Learners should then be encouraged to adopt such systems that encourage values like honesty and hard work,” he said.
He said that non-academic activities must be part of such value systems.