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UN agencies launch campaign to increase girl enrollment in secondary schools

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | United Nations agencies in Uganda have launched a new campaign aimed at increasing the enrollment of girls in secondary schools.

The UN agencies include UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNFPA, UN Women, and UNICEF. The campaign dubbed, ‘Education Plus Initiative’ aims to accelerate action and investments to prevent HIV among young women.

According to the organizers of the campaign, if girls complete secondary school, they would be able to avoid teenage pregnancies, and also the rate of HIV new infections would drop.

Currently, national data shows that 42 percent of the 1.4 million people estimated to be living with HIV in the country are aged between 15-24 years, many of whom are females.

Ketty Lamaro, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education says the campaign aims at improving the rate at which girls complete secondary school.

According to Lamaro, the longer a girl is kept in school, the less likely she will become a teenage mother or be infected with HIV. It is estimated that girls in schools are 14 percent less likely to become teenage mothers.

According to data from the education ministry, while over 4 million girls enroll in primary one, less than 400,000 girls complete secondary education.

The campaign aims at increasing completion rates for girls by sensitizing learners about HIV/AIDS. The campaign will also tackle gender-based violence especially abuses like defilement that can lead to teenage pregnancy by streamlining reporting system for such cases.

In addition to this, it will educate girls on sexual reproductive health and sex education to enable them to know their bodies and rights.

Rosette Nanyanzi, the gender advisor in the Ministry of Education says the campaign will help girls know more about sexual reproductive health.

“During COVID-19, we registered many teenage pregnancy cases and some of these girls fell victim because they were told that having sex would stop them from menstruating. They instead became pregnant. This shows that some girls do not have enough information about their bodies,” she said.

The campaign will be implemented in collaboration with the ministry of gender, health, and the Uganda Police.

While officiating at the launch of the campaign on Thursday at Mengo Secondary School, the Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Kataaha Museveni said that the launch of the program was the government’s recommitment to tackling HIV among the younger groups.

The program will run for five years and be implemented in regions such as Busoga and the North that registered high teenage pregnancies.

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