African Union Conference Addresses Pregnant and Parenting Students

African Union Conference Addresses Pregnant and Parenting Students
A secondary school student who is pregnant holds a doll inside her home in the Kibera slums of Nairobi, Kenya on September 30, 2020. © 2020 Monicah Mwangi/Reuters

An All-Inclusive Strategy for Educating and Involving African Girls

Recent UNESCO data shows that nine out of the ten nations in sub-Saharan Africa have the highest rates of school exclusion for girls, highlighting the severe problem that the continent of Africa faces in this area. There needs to be immediate action because this disturbing statistic means that 51 million girls across Africa are not in school.

The African Union Commission and its specialized agency on girls’ and women’s education have organized a historic summit in Addis Ababa to address this urgent matter. To accelerate advancements in women’s and girls’ education throughout the continent, this meeting brings together representatives from civil society, education specialists, and ministers of education.

The Catch-22 of Being Pregnant

Premature motherhood is a major obstacle to females’ access to education in Africa. On the African continent, over 25% of females become pregnant before they turn 19. Thousands of students who are pregnant or have children are unable to continue their studies because of this harsh reality.

These young mothers-to-be confront complex issues:

1. The prevalence of biased practices and beliefs
2. School-based support services are lacking. 3. Adolescent pregnancy is socially stigmatized.
Four, a lack of healthcare and childcare options

The combination of these variables makes it considerably more difficult for pregnant and parenting students to stay in school and even more difficult for them to graduate.

The Present State of Policy

In a detailed analysis, Human Rights Watch shows that African Union member states take different approaches to protecting girls’ right to education. Although numerous countries on the continent have passed legislation to assist students who are expecting or are already parents, the regulations’ efficacy and execution differ greatly from one another.

The policy landscape uncovered some important things, such as:

1. Students who are pregnant or planning to become parents can find assistance in some progressive policies.
2. Some people persistently engage in discriminatory practices that prevent girls from accessing school.
3. When it comes to the complicated demands of young moms, many governments fail to provide complete solutions.

Importance of Taking a Comprehensive View

It is imperative that African governments take a comprehensive strategy to addressing the educational requirements of pregnant and parenting students. This means integrating health, social protection, and education systems. This all-encompassing plan ought to incorporate:

First, rules that are more accommodating to employees’ needs for prenatal care and child care
2. Daycare centers located within schools
3. Helping new moms with their mental health and counseling
4. Programs that expedite the learning process so that students can make up for lost time in class
5. Education on reproductive and sexual health to reduce the occurrence of unwanted pregnancies
6. Programs that go out to the community to fight prejudice and encourage acceptance

African Unity and Its Function

There is no continental organization better equipped to tackle this problem than the African Union (AU). Member states can be guided in efficiently executing their human rights commitments connected to girls’ education by utilizing the AU’s convening capacity and proposing policy frameworks for the entire organization.

Suggestions for the African Union and its member nations:

2. Promote the proactive evaluation of educational policy frameworks and their execution in educational institutions 3. Create a continental framework outlining the rights of students who are pregnant or have recently given birth 4.
3. promote the exchange of information and the dissemination of best practices among member states
4. Pledge financial backing for inclusive education policy initiatives.
5. Keep tabs on developments by means of consistent reporting

A Spark for Transformation: The Addis Abeba Conference

There is a significant chance for AU institutions, particularly its human rights authorities, to mobilize action on this issue at the current session in Addis Abeba. The conference should aim to achieve the following primary goals:

1. Urging African nations to assess and improve their educational policy frameworks
2. Responding to requests that the AU establish a continental framework protecting the rights of students who are pregnant or have just become parents
Thirdly, easing communication between government officials, school administrators, and members of civic society
4. Finding creative ways to remove obstacles to girls’ education
5. Creating firm plans of action and committing to them

Future Prospects: Elevated Opportunities for African Girls

African nations have the opportunity to empower millions of girls who may be marginalized if they prioritize the education of pregnant and parenting students. The economic and social progress of the continent will benefit greatly from this expenditure on human capital.

As the Addis Abeba meeting gets underway, everyone is waiting for the African Union and its member states to make a strong and clear statement. By prioritizing girls’ education and embracing a rights-based approach, Africa can create a future that is more inclusive, egalitarian, and prosperous for everyone.


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