The expulsion of pregnant students in Uganda: Teacher perspectives on a contravention of 'Education for All’
Sammanfattning: The denial of formal education to pregnant pre-tertiary school students contravenes universal access to quality education, yet the latter is a key aspiration of the 21st century. Only recently, in 2015, did Uganda draft guidelines on preventing and managing HIV/AIDS and pregnancy in school settings, with a COVID-19 related update in 2020. These prohibit the expulsion of pregnant students before the first trimester of pregnancy elapses; and advocate unconditional re-enrolment when the child is at least 6 months. However, the guidelines are little publicised, and the practice of denying pregnant and parenting students access to formal education still continues as the case was before their promulgation. The current study was conducted to identify the factors and forces perpetuating pregnant student expulsions, and to explore ways of enabling girls to continue studying during and after pregnancy. From a theoretical perspective combining Marxist and socialist feminism, and a critical educational research approach, the study involved two group interviews with participants drawn from two nationally spread professional networks, UNELTA and ILEP Uganda, and discussions with two individual teachers. A thematic analysis was conducted, identifying, as broad themes, teachers’ descriptions of processes, practices and experiences regarding pregnant student expulsions and parenting student reenrolment; the factors and actors perpetuating the denial of formal education; and possible remedies. Key conclusions are drawn by discussing the findings in light of the research theories employed and existing literature. The study recommends fostering girl child agency, improving the policy framework, establishing a pregnant and parenting students tracking mechanism to foster reenrolment, and making structural and infrastructural adjustments to enable them stay in school. I hope that the knowledge and suggested solutions contribute to the emancipation of the girl child, and to the advancement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 4 and 5.
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