Academic journal article Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies

De-Stigmatizing Teenage Motherhood: Towards Achievement of Universal Basic Education in Kenya

Academic journal article Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies

De-Stigmatizing Teenage Motherhood: Towards Achievement of Universal Basic Education in Kenya

Article excerpt

Abstract

Teenage motherhood is a situation in which a girl in teenage years, that is, 13-19 years is a mother or has a child. Globally, a third of teenage mothers live in India whereas the least affected country by teenage motherhood in the world is Japan. In Africa, it is estimated that approximately 5.5 million girls between 15-19 years are mothers .Of these 62% live in Sub Saharan Africa. In Kenya, 13,000 girls leave school every year due to teenage pregnancy. The relationship between teenage motherhood and schooling is explicit; when teenagers become pregnant and consequently mothers they abandon schooling altogether. Stigmatization and discrimination by teachers, parents, fellow students and the immediate society are the major causes for discontinuing school. In turn, the girls feel that they deserve to be punished for getting pregnant by dropping out of school or are too shy to return to school. By discontinuing school, teenage motherhood spells a blink future for both the teenager and her child. This situation can be reversed, given Kenya's return to school policy. The policy calls for counseling for the girl, the parents, teachers and other students in the school. Nevertheless, the lack of legal backing or any official communication on how to implement the policy in schools makes it weak. Hence there is need to de-stigmatize teenage motherhood in an attempt to win back the girls to school. This paper elaborate on the question of teenage motherhood (causes and effects) and delves into the issue of teenage motherhood stigmatization and the need for the society to de-stigmatize teenage motherhood to enable the girls achieve education. The paper contributes to the ongoing debate on teenage motherhood. It also sensitizes the policy makers, educationists and the public on the need to recast their perception towards teenage motherhood and specifically on the social stigma associated with this old age problem.

Keywords: de-stigmatization, teenage, motherhood, education, policy

INTRODUCTION

Teenage motherhood is a situation in which a girl in her teenage years becomes a mother as result of getting pregnant (Brady, Stephanie & Ventura, 2012). Teenage motherhood is a global phenomenon affecting both developed and developing countries (Treffer, 2003). According to Lucker (2010), it is a complex reality of contemporary society. Among the developed countries, the United States of America (USA) leads in the rates of teenage mothers whereas Japan and South Korea are the least affected (Lowen, 2012). In developing countries the sub-Saharan Africa has the highest numbers of teenage mothers (Were, 2007). A study carried by Porta (2010), found out that 53% of the girls in the Sub Saharan Africa are already teenage mothers by the age of 18 years. In Kenya, approximately, 13000 girls leave school annually due to teenage motherhood (UNDP, 2010). There is a correlation between teenage motherhood and education (Treffer, 2003).Girls that bear children in their teen years are more likely to drop out of school once they get pregnant (Oyaro, 2008). In addition those who have completed high school are less likely to pursue college education (ibid, 2008). Teenage motherhood is a hindrance to educational attainment which a basic right and a valuable resource in the society today. Studies indicate that the demanding roles of motherhood and the social ridicule the teenage mother gets from society conspire such that eventually the teenage mother gives up schooling altogether (Obanya, 2009; Oyaro, 2008 & Mulongo, 2005). This negative treatment of the teenage mother leaves her with emotional scars to heal and most importantly a blink future to face as she forfeits schooling. The role played by education brings to the forefront the necessity to remove barriers that hinder educational attainment. Educational attainment is a prerequisite for upward social mobility (Njeru, 2004).This paper explores the causes and consequences of teenage motherhood as one of these barriers with an aim of changing the current discourse of teenage motherhood from that of ridicule to that of capability. …

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