Block pregnant girls from church schools, Ugandan bishop tells teachers

As schools prepare to reopen today after two years of closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Bishop James Ssebagala of Mukono Diocese has directed teachers in Church of Uganda-founded schools to block pregnant or breastfeeding girls from their institutions.

The bishop’s directive contradicts the Ministry of Education guidelines to accept girls who got pregnant or gave birth during the lockdown.

Bishop Ssebagala made the directive on Saturday at St Paul Church Kanjuki in Kayunga District while bidding farewell to Christians ahead of his retirement this year.

He said although it is good for parents to support girls who are pregnant, it was not morally upright to allow them to sit in class with other children.

“All head teachers, I want to tell you that we shall not allow pregnant or breastfeeding girls in class. When all girls turn up, carry out the usual medical examination so that those found pregnant can go back and give birth they will come back after giving birth,” the bishop said.

“Imagine someone saying even breastfeeding ones should be allowed to attend class. No, this we shall not accept because our schools were started purposely not only to impart knowledge but also discipline in children. How can a teacher be teaching when a girl is giving breasts to her child?”

Commenting on the bishop’s remarks, the State Minister for Higher Education, John Chrysostom Muyingo, said it is a government directive that all children should go back to school whether pregnant or breastfeeding.

“It seems my friend the bishop doesn’t know the position of government. I will go to his office and talk to him. I know he will understand my explanation and change his position,” Mr Muyingo said.

Ms Alice Dhoya, the Kayunga District Education Officer, said she would educate school foundations about the government position on pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

“We are, however, not aware if there are such girls who are pregnant or breastfeeding that would like to go back to school,” Ms Dhoya said.