Legislators have urged Government to avail more funding for skilling the girl child to curtail the rising cases of defilement and teenage pregnancies escalated by the Covid19 national lockdown.
The clarion call follows a motion by Tororo District Woman MP, Sarah Opendi urging Government to address challenges faced by the girl child and children in general in the digital age.
She noted that the situation of the girl child was appalling requiring an urgent response from the Government.
The motion sought to have Government provide the necessary resources and develop programmes to skill the girl child, whose education has been affected by factors such as teenage pregnancy and child marriage.
Opendi said that the COVID19 pandemic had escalated the challenges faced by girl children, exposing them to child marriages, teenage pregnancies, poor menstrual hygiene among other challenges.
She further noted that following the COVID19 pandemic, about 15 million learners had been locked out of the education system for failure to access alternative learning platforms including digital learning
Opendi, who was recently elected chairperson of Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA), said that the Government needed to approve the draft School Health Policy.
She cited a report by the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), which indicates an increase in teenage pregnancies among girls aged 10-14 years and 22 per cent of girls forced into transactional sex due to poverty.
A section of MPs urged the Government to focus on sex education and proper parenting for both the girl and the boy child.
Wakiso Woman MP Betty Ethel Naluyima called for sensitization of the local officers handling cases of sexual abuse among children and educating the boy child to understand matters concerning the girl child.
Dokolo Woman MP, Hon Cecilia Ogwal appealed to the Government to include the skilling of children in the Parish Development Model (PDM) programme to cater for those that we’re unable to continue with formal education.
Mbarara City Woman MP, Rita Akankwasa raised concern over the stigma directed towards children who get pregnant. She noted that sometimes the stigma leads to unsafe abortions that result in deaths.
Mawokota North MP, Hillary Innocent Kiyaga appealed to the Government to have increased electricity distribution in rural areas and reduction of the cost of the internet so that the girl child can benefit from the digital age.
Rakai District Woman MP, Hon Juliet Kinyamatama proposed that there was the need for the government to give teenage mothers and their children incentives such as food and special packages before re-opening of schools.
The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Mathias Mpuuga, called for a change in legislation in ICT in education to ensure that vocational schools are in every sub-county. He said that there was a need for the motion to manifest into related legislation.
The Government Chief Whip, Thomas Tayebwa said that there is a need for a mindset change away from barbaric customs in society by giving the child victim a second chance in life, especially in cases of early pregnancy.
The Minister for Health, Hon Jane Ruth Aceng urged the MPs and other stakeholders to equally focus on the boy child who she said has been forgotten yet they are key players in the challenges girls are facing.
She revealed that the Ministry of Education and Sports was yet to complete the School Health Policy where the plight of the girl child would be addressed.
“It is time to focus on the boy child because they are all children,” Aceng said.
The Deputy Speaker, Anita Among emphasized the need to have the skilling centres situated at parishes so that children do not have to walk long distances which would otherwise expose them to more risks.