Secondary school heads have opposed a bill seeking to have them jailed if they refuse to readmit teenage girls who drop out of school due to pregnancy. The principals view the proposed penalty as ill-advised.
Kenya Secondary Schools’ Heads Association chair Kahi Indimuli said principals have always supported such students and cannot be subjected to punishment over mistakes made by learners.
He said such students should not be readmitted to the same school as that will create the impression that the institution condones teenage pregnancies.
The bill, now before Parliament, proposes that school heads, administrators, principals and boards should not deny the teenage mothers an opportunity to rejoin their former schools after delivery.
Under the Care and Protection Bill 2019, headteachers will be jailed for six months or fined up to Sh500,000 if they refuse to readmit the girls.
School management board members who refuse to readmit the girls will also be liable to a similar punishment.
The law has also not left parents of the teenage mothers out. Those who refuse to send their daughters back to school after delivery will also be punished.
The bill also bans discrimination against the girls and proposes that they be given an opportunity to make up for any missed classes or examinations.
Mr Indimuli said principals should not be condemned for the failure of parents to follow up with their children.
“Principals have been helping such girls to get admitted in different schools so that they study without victimisation,” Mr Indimuli said.
The Ministry of Education identifies the major causes of teenage pregnancies as lack of parental guidance and sex education in schools and moral decay in the society.
“Moral uprightness of a child is not the responsibility of teachers and school heads, parents should play the major role in modelling their children,” Mr Indimuli said.
During last year’s national exams, more than 11,000 teenage girls in primary and secondary schools were pregnant, according to statistics from the ministry.