Kaduna Community Where Early Pregnancy is Major Reason for “Out-of-School” for Girls
By Hauwa Negedu, Kaduna
Majority of schools dropouts by girls in Nasarawa Community in Chikun Local Government of Kaduna State is as a result of early pregnancy.
Most teenage girls in their late primary school level up to senior secondary, between the ages of 14 and 22years dropped out of school because of teenage pregnancy.
The practice according to sources in the community, is an age long one which is almost becoming a norm as nothing is being done about it.
The number of unplanned children kept increasing and many teenagers grow into adulthood without completing their education.
Some residents who spoke with NEWSWEB EXPRESS, when a team from the Center for Media Advocacy for Mother and Child (CAMAC), on an assessment visit to the community, called on government at all levels, development agencies, well meaning individuals and other stakeholders to come to their aid.
According to them, there is need for an attitudinal change campaign to help the teenagers to understand the danger early sex portends to their future, and to the men who are putting them through the hardship to also see the need for possible abstinence or the use of protection.
It was also revealed that over 90% of men who impregnate these girls are faceless and unknown, because they don’t own up and take responsibility. This they said, sometimes could be as a result of the girls not being able to pinpoint a particular man responsible for their pregnancy.
Mrs Mary Timothy, a 60years old retired nurse who worked with different Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) within the LGA, explained that dropping out of school, poverty and low self-esteem are the ‘after effects’ of teenage pregnancy which have become very rampant in the community.
“I’ve witnessed numerous cases of teenage girls having to drop out of school because of pregnancy. It is so painful because at the end of the day, they give birth to more children while doing menial jobs to fend for themselves and the children also end up taking their mothers’ footsteps or becoming nuisances to the community.
“I know of a woman, who got pregnant at the age of 15. She always tells me how she cheated herself out of school and how she would have been a pensioner by now, if not for the early pregnancy” she said.
Another disturbing aspect, Mrs Mary, pointed out is “some of these young girls abort the pregnancies, damaging their wombs in the process. And for the ones who don’t attempt abortion, they believe they can never make anything good of themselves after child birth.
“It will be a great advancement if stakeholders of this local government and other agencies and even individuals can come up with programmes like N-Power to teach the victims vocational skills that will allow them to be financially stable and worthy”.
Narrating her ordeal, a victim of the circumstance, who simply identified herself as Helena Onuh, said “I am not proud to say it, but I am a victim of teenage pregnancy and as painful as it is, my younger sister got pregnant too at 14years.
“I got pregnant at 15years and had to stop going to school. My son is now 10years old and I am 25, but now I find it financially difficult to go back to school because I’ve to take care of my child and myself.
“Apart from dropping out of school, I am financially and psychologically imbalance. I went back to school at a point though I even skipped classes and wrote WAEC (West Africa Examination Council) twice but didn’t make good results.
“I stopped trying when I discovered that I don’t comprehend anything I read and the people I confided in only make jest of me. Now, I am looking for a means to learn a vocational skill while my sister will go back to school.”
A resident in the community, Gambo Saleh, an 18years old unskilled labourer noted that early pregnancy has led the girls in the area to poverty and unsecured future.
“Some of these girls are enticed by the immediate monetary gain, not realizing that getting pregnant before you learn a skill or finish school means you won’t have a good future. My 15years old cousin got pregnant for a boy who denied the pregnancy and she had to stop learning tailoring.
“Even the ones who go to school always sneak out to a place nicknamed ‘Dutsen Love’, where men offer them money in exchange for sexual intercourse” Gambo added.
While expressing his concern over the negative influence of early pregnancy, Mr Yayok Livinus, a teacher who is the Head of the Disciplinary Committee, Government Day Secondary School Nasarawa, noted that beside school dropout, low self-esteem, prostitution and public nuisance are notable consequences of early pregnancy.
According to him, “In my years of teaching and heading the disciplinary committee of the junior session of this school, I’ve seen lot of cases of girls taking in at an early age thereby, forcing them out of school, to the streets because the men who get them pregnant don’t always take responsibility.
“In the process of fending for themselves and their children, these young girls begin to feel inferior. They begin to absorb the general belief of being a product of one’s environment and choose to live wayward lifestyles, prostituting, which in turn will make them nuisances to the public”.
“The school have employed the services of the Kaduna State Vigilante Services (KADVS) who help monitor the students’ movements. But, it will be a great improvement if other relevant bodies can stand up on this matter” he added.
Another member of the community, 25years old Miss Favour Simon, whose friend is a victim, stated that lack of zeal and motivation to grow above the situation is a major effect of early pregnancy in girls.
“I know of several girls who got pregnant very early. I’ve a friend who also got pregnant at 17 or 18years. In fact, it’s a common thing in this area.
“Personally, I believe the major issue is not even getting pregnant. The issue is lacking the zeal or motivation to go back to school or learning a skill and it is mostly because they cannot afford to.
“It will yield great results if either the government or nongovernmental agencies can organize seminars or workshops constantly to address this issue and also offer vocational skills training for those affected”. She said.
Head of Kugo Road Settlers of the area, Baba Adamu Anche, who expressed concern over the root causes of the problem, pleaded with relevant authorities to help curb the situation in the community.
“It is true that in our community, there are many teenage pregnancy cases but, the young girls are the only ones who suffer the consequences. That is why I am appealing to relevant authorities to organize seminars for us, where parents, boys and girls will be addressed.
“Some of these pregnancies arise as a result of girls fending for themselves. Parents should be taught birth control while our sons should also be cautioned”. He said.