Okoler Opio January 18, 2022

January 18th, 2022

Today the Uganda Young Democrats is honored to address the DP Tuesday Press Conference to celebrate our victory in the Makerere University Business School (MUBS) Guild Elections and to denounce the government of Uganda’s failure to plan for pregnant teenagers in schools.

We would like to congratulate His Excellency Kiyega Edward Rogers our UYD flag bearer in the recently concluded elections in Makerere University Business school upon winning the hotly contested race that had 6 contestants. Mr. Kiyega Edward Rogers got 874 votes. The runner up from NRM Kayi Nimrod got 785 votes while the NUP candidate Ogwang Valentine trailed with 694 votes.

This wasn’t an easy race because it was a rerun. The first time the election took place counting was interrupted by NRM hooligans who seized the ballot box under the watchful eye of security forces and ran away with it. The election was also a challenge because NRM and NUP spent a lot of money in an attempt to induce students to vote for their candidates. The outcome of the elections should make it clear that the intellectuals of MUBS cannot be distracted by the violence of hooligans or the inducements of money.

In celebrating the massive UYD win at MUBS we declare that the UYD is reclaiming its space, fame and power as one of the strongest youth organizations in the African continent. We have a concrete program of action to make UYD and DP even stronger. We are rebuilding the structures of UYD nationwide.

In order to strengthen the student organizations UYD will launch the UYD Students Union as an umbrella of all UYD Chapters in educational institutions in Uganda. We are to have structures in each and every active institution in Uganda where we can be able to identify, equip and deploy vibrant young leaders to participate in the political life of the nation.

We also wish to announce that the Democratic Party has organized a congratulatory Luncheon for our newly elected Guild President in MUBS and the Prime Minister of MUBS Mbale campus. This Grand Luncheon shall take place on a date to be confirmed.

We would like to appreciate government for opening up schools which has been our long time prayer since 2020. This brings to an end the longest school closure in the world. The long lock down has left many girls pregnant and others are child mothers.

The government’s directive to allow the pregnant girls in schools is an irrational decision tainted with emotions. It is not the first time girls are getting pregnant. Girls who conceive while in school have always been encouraged to wait and return to school after delivering and when the baby is old enough to be taken care of by another person.

Pregnant girls require special needs, care and confidentiality. Some may not want to share desks and some facilities of course not forgetting effects that come along pregnancy like vomiting, dozing, spitting, eating too much and others. These calls for a special care that is not available and not provided for in a school environment.

The government has not provided any training nor facilities to this effect to teachers, non teaching staff and even the community to handle these girls who conceived at these different intervals. Some of the pregnancies are advanced. A girl may deliver in just a few weeks after returning to school. Then there is the likelihood of stigmatization. This will leave a permanent psychological scar on the girls.

Our call as UYD is simple: Let us not deceive ourselves that these pregnant girls will study effectively in such a situation. In fact the pregnancies have extended the lockdown for these girls. Since the period for pregnancies is definite these girls should be identified and supported to deliver safely. They should be counseled and encouraged to resume studies after delivery. Many families have faced these situations before for a variety of reasons. We therefore expect a clear statement of policy from government. It is irresponsible for government to pass the buck to schools.

The pregnancies came due to a number of circumstances. We have those who were defiled, raped, forced to marry because of economical circumstances etc. Each case has to be understood before policy prescriptions can be made. Parents should be supported in their efforts to care for these girls. The Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja the Prime Minister should intervene with a special package targeting these pregnant teens especially those in rural areas. Mama Kits should be made available and sensitization for communities about this challenge should be done through various media like radios and television. Posters declaring the innocence of the unborn children should be made.

The proposals we have made require the cooperation of parents, the central government, local government, religious bodies, NGOs, school managements and the community.

Kiirya Ismail
UYD President