Our Presentation to the Senate on High Rates of Teenage Pregnancies
March 13, 2019
To: Speaker of the Senate
Clerk of the Senate
Sen. (Dr.) Langat Christopher Andrew – Chair, Committee on Education
C.c. Sen. (Prof) Kamar Margaret Chepkoech- Vice Chair, Committee on Education
The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) appreciates the invitation by your honourable office to present a statement regarding the alarming high rates of teenage pregnancies in schools. The crisis came to fore late last year when the media extensively broadcasted instances where candidates of Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education and Kenya Certificate of Primary Education gave birth or were heavily pregnant during the examinations. Further to this, an International Non Governmental Organisation released statistics showing the number of teenage pregnancies in different counties, a report which was referred to during the discussions on the floor of this Honourable Senate on 14th November 2018.
The Member Churches of the National Council of Churches of Kenya take their mandate of contributing to the shaping of values and morals of the society very seriously. They are therefore very concerned about the issue of teenage pregnancies as they reflect a massive eroding of values, sense of community, sense of purpose, and respect for the law.
We now wish to share the following thoughts and recommendations on what can be done to reverse this trend and protect the teenage girls in the country.
2. CAUSES OF TEENAGE PREGNANCIES
Biologically, pregnancy occurs when there has been sexual intercourse during which sperm is released into the uterus of a female, with the exception of the very few instances of in vitro fertilization. This means that males that arte sexually mature do engage in sexual intercourse with the teenage and pre-teenage girls.
Understanding this, the NCCK holds that the primary cure for teenage and pre-teenage pregnancies is delaying the age of sexual debut. Towards this, we recommend the following measures:
3. ENFORCE THE LAW ON CHILD MOLESTATION
The laws of Kenya provide that the maximum penalty for child molestation, which entail any sexual act done on a child below 18 years of age, is life imprisonment. Rather than be fascinated by the statistics about pregnancies among teenagers and pre teenagers, this Senate should be demanding to be informed by the relevant security agencies how many of the men who impregnated the girls have been jailed. So long as this law is not enforced, impregnation of teenage and pre teenage girls will continue regardless of other measures that the government and non government agencies put in place. Having sex with underage girls must be made very painful.
The NCCK recommends that this Senate demands a report from the Inspector General of Police on how many instances of teenage and pre teenage pregnancies were investigated, how many of the suspected molesters were arrested, how many were charged in court, and how many were found guilty.
Secondly, the NCCK recommends that the Senate amends the appropriate laws to provide for stiff punishment of parents, guardians, administrators, police officers, judiciary officer or any other person who facilitates or participates in negotiations aimed at hiding the crime of child sexual molestation by covering it up, facilitating compensation for the parents, or marrying off the girl to the offender or any other person. Facilitating an easy way out for child molesters must be made very expensive.
Also we recommend strict adherence to the Children’s Act provisions especially section 15 of the Act which protects children from sexual abuse and exposure to pornography and other explicit materials.
4. REVAMP THE MORAL VALUES OF THE NATION
The behaviour and character of the people is governed by their sense of moral values. Even though most Kenyan communities frown at sex with minors, many adults engage in the same without a qualm. This points to a growing depletion of moral values. This has been caused by a number of factors, the leading one being the influence of terminologies fronted by International NGOs which have been embraced by the government leading to major havoc.
(a) Reproductive Health
This phrase, which has been used for so long that it has been adopted in government policies and guidelines, removes the sexual act from the family unit and puts it at the personal level. The result is that even children, who are physically and mentally not mature enough to handle sexuality issues, are forced to make personal decisions on the same. This has opened the door for paedophiles to take advantage of the children who have been isolated from their families on matters touching on sex.
(b) Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)
This is a humanistic doctrine which teaches that sex is primarily for pleasure. It therefore requires that children are taught how to experience sexual pleasure from the age of 5. By the age of 10, children are then taught to have sex with boys and girls so as to determine their “orientation”. This is the primary content of the so called “Comprehensive Sex Education” or “Age Appropriate Sex Education” than Honourable Senators may have heard about.
By the time the children reach teenage, SRHR requires that they be provided with contraception and abortion services in “youth friendly health facilities”. Honourable Senators will recall that these “youth friendly health facilities” have already been incorporated in the Ministry of Health policies.
The NCCK holds to the Biblical teaching that sex is for pleasure and procreation in the context of marriage. Any sexual activity, whether it includes sexual intercourse or not, is therefore illicit and should be discouraged.
The NCCK therefore recommends that the Senate requires of the Ministry of Health to withdraw the policies meant to facilitate provision of contraception to girls below the age of 18, and tough action to stop provision of abortion services to any category of Kenyans.
(c) Comprehensive Sex Education
The NCCK is concerned regarding the reports that Comprehensive Sex Education is being taught in a number of schools across the country without the authority or knowledge of parents. This must be stopped as it is destroying the moral values and society fabric. It must not escape the attention of the Honourable Senators that the same NGOs carrying out the Comprehensive Sex Education are using the statistics about teenage pregnancies to push for integration of CSE in the national curriculum. Recently some even had the audacity to propose that school going children be provided with contraceptives and condoms. The government must not entertain such proposals.
Instead, the NCCK recommends that children be taught, at home and in school, to fear God the almighty creator, to uphold human dignity, to treasure chastity as the principal guiding factor in sexuality, and to respect other people’s sexuality. It must be made clear to them, by both secular and religious leaders and community members, that extramarital sexual experience is wrong.
It must be made clear to all children that under-age sex is a criminal offence that is punishable by the law. The law applies to both boys and girls.
(d) Implement life skills curriculum.
We regret the lack of implementation of life skills Education curriculum developed by the Ministry of Education and approved by Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development in 2008. For whatever reason this has not been implemented in schools, the result has been low levels of morality and values among learners depicted by teenage pregnancy, strikes, drug abuse among other immoral behaviours in schools.
The NCCK recommends immediate implementation of this curriculum in both primary and secondary schools in Kenya. This will mitigate against the current moral breakdown in schools. This curriculum will also empower learners with skills for interpersonal relationships and decision making for positive living.
Teachers need to be trained in this curriculum and the subject time-tabled and taught. Life skills lessons should not be exchanged with other examinable subjects. We also recommend that teachers promotion is not just pegged on examinable subjects but on moral development and formation of learners at the end of school.
5. EMPOWER PARENTS TO PLAY THEIR ROLE
Character formation occurs in the first 5 years of a child. This is the time the child is expected to spend most time with their parents. The role of the parent in the character formation is one that cannot be delegated to any other person or institution.
The NCCK recommends that a Parents’ Curriculum on Human Sexuality be developed to empower parents and teachers in school to teach children appropriately. The curriculum should be premised on moral values, not humanistic principles.
Towards this, the NCCK recommends that the government provides funds for nationwide Family Life Education programmes where parents and potential parents are empowered with parenting skills. This would be best achieved through partnerships with organisations that are already engaged in provision of moral value trainings for parents.
A core component of this training will be Rites of Passage trainings for both boys and girls that will be aimed at dissociating rites of passage from sexual activities and instead promoting sexual purity.
The NCCK further recommends that severe punishment be meted out on persons who facilitate children to access pornography. Legal measures need to be developed that will block access to pornographic content on electronic devices by minors in a way that will not infringe on the freedom of access to information by other Kenyans.
6. MANAGING TEENAGE PREGNANCIES
Pregnancy at teenage or pre teen years radically changes the live and destiny of the girl. Their future is never the same again.
In addition to the man responsible for making the girl pregnant being jailed as provided for in the law, the NCCK recommends the following redemptive measures:
(a) Provision of counselling for the girl
(b) Provision for the girl to offer the child for adoption immediately after birth
(c) A law to require parents of the pregnant girl to take care of the child before and after it is born
(d) Establishment of Rescue Centers, at least 1 in each county, to accommodate girls who are chased from home by parents
7. MANAGING TEENAGE PREGNANCY STATISTICS
The NCCK has noted with concern that nearly all the statistics available on teenage and pre teenage pregnancies are sourced from Non Government Organisations. This is very worrying for us, considering that these Kenyans don’t have any contract with these organisations to require them to act for the best interest of Kenyans.
The NCCK thus recommends that the Senate passes the necessary laws to require the Ministry of Health to annually furnish it with statistics, drawn from the services provided at government and private health facilities, of the ages of expectant mothers who receive prenatal and post natal services. It is extremely unpatriotic for the government to continue building her policies on the basis of statistics provided by entities other than those with a fiduciary responsibility to take care of Kenyans.
These statistics will then be correlated with the report from the Inspector General to ascertain whether the cases of teenage and pre teenage pregnancies were investigated and the perpetrators appropriately punished.
8. PRIORITIZE WHOLISTIC FORMATION
The NCCK notes with concern that school has been reduced to a place of examination preparation as opposed to formation and holistic learning centres. The emphasis on exams has led neglect of games, sports, physical education and recreation especially for examination classes. The net effect of this is that finalist learners have no avenues of constructive debrief of stress leading to unhealthy behaviour.
To this end, we recommend that
a) Chaplaincy is implemented in all schools across the country.
b) Physical Education, sports and recreation is prioritized for all learners including those in examination classes.
We conclude by calling to the attention of this Senate that in as much as many teenage and pre teenage girls were reported pregnant as per the statistics, there are many more who have upheld their chastity. Let us celebrate these ones.
We indeed urge that as a nation, we build a culture of celebrating those who do well, not just focusing on what went wrong.
We thank you for this opportunity.
Signed at Nairobi on this 13th day of March 2019.
Dr. Nelson Makanda
DEPUTY GENERAL SECRETARY