By Winnie Kabintie
Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed has ordered an audit of all pregnant girls in schools in the wake of damning statistics on teenage pregnancies in the country.
The alarming cases of teenage pregnancies were brought to the fore during the just concluded Kenya’s Certificate of Primary Examinations (KCPE) after dozens of schoolgirls failed to sit for their exams or sat for them in labour rooms due to pregnancies.
“A high number of candidates became mothers during the three days of KCPE. If this is the case all-year round, the country could be facing a real crisis,” the CS said.
The CS ordered ministry officials to liaise with relevant stakeholders to assess the magnitude of the teenage pregnancy menace.
Statistics On Teenage Pregnancies In Kenya Alarming
According to the latest Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS) one in every five schoolgirls gets pregnant by the age of 20.
Narok County has the highest burden of teenage pregnancies in the country according to the KDHS, followed by Homa Bay County (33 percent), West Pokot (29 percent), Tana River (28 percent) and Nyamira (28 percent).
Murang’a and Nyeri counties recorded the least cases of teenage pregnancies with prevalence rates of six percent.
Girls in rural areas get pregnant earlier than those in the cities
A recent study, which was conducted by the Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020 (PMA2020) in partnership with the Ministry Of Health, revealed that girls in the villages have their first sexual encounter way earlier than those in the urban cities.
According to the study girls in the village engage in their first sexual encounter at an average 16 years (At this age for the girls who are in school they are usually in high school at either Form 2 or Form 3) a bit earlier compared to girls in urban cities who have their first sexual encounter at an average age of 18 years, when most of them have completed high school already.
The study further revealed that despite engaging in sex earlier than those in the cities, girls in the villages do no use contraceptives until later on life.
“The gap between first sex and first contraceptive use among rural women is 6 years and 3.5 years for urban women,” the study said in part.