Education

Mix Reactions As Minister Nalova Bars Schools Form Dismissing  Pregnant  Students

Prof Nalova – Continue to teach children how to live in peace

By Etienne Mainimo Mengnjo

The recent decision by the Minister of Secondary Education, MINESEC, Prof. Pauline Nalova Lyonga, that forbids secondary school administrators from dismissing pregnant students has been criticized by moralists who argue that it encourages sexual immorality in schools.

Some Cameroonians, who reacted to The Post, among them a teacher and a parent, said although the decision will limit educational inequalities, it could encourage young boys and girl students to engage in sexual immorality.

In Circular No. 02/22/C/MINESEC/CAB of 22 April 2022, signed and forwarded to Regional and Divisional Delegates, Education Secretaries and Principals, Minister Nalova forbade the dismissal of girls who are pregnant while in school, or boys who impregnate them.

The Secondary Education boss also said the dismissal of pregnant students is contrary to the government policy of promoting gender equality and preventing the dismissal of vulnerable students, and has made many girls drop out of school.

Even though a majority of those who expressed their views sorted to be anonymous, they all raised diverse views. While others sound so good about the move, others simply wave it aside, insisting that this will encourage immorality in schools.

To this interviewee who gave his name only as Edward, “When I read the circular in one of my WhatsApp forums, I felt bad because we are indirectly promoting children to engage in immoral activities. A child knowing that she will be pregnant and then continue school will just be normal even if whatever punishment is coming after, she knows that is not the issue.”

“But when these students knew that they will be dismissed, this acted as a measure to push them to abstain from indulging in such acts but now that the door has been open widely as I think, I think that the decision of the Minister is not in the right direction.”

Also, a Yaounde-based teacher who opted for anonymity said: “Let us again rethink this message that the Minister has signed. She indeed wants inclusion of all but we don’t need to spare a rod and spoil a child. Instead, I was thinking that we need to tighten rules in this direction to make our schools safe and conducive to the teaching-learning process.”

However, Minister Nalova says the dismissing of students is discriminatory and exposes them to inequalities, reason why they need to be protected.

“I think the Minister has spoken well because, in as much as we don’t want that to be happening in schools, these children still have the right to education. Sending them away adds to their frustration, which doesn’t speak well of the society that we want,” said Relindis Maa, an inhabitant of Yaounde.

The Ministerial circular comes on the heels of reports on the way school authorities are handling cases of early pregnancies in educational institutions, something that is against government policy of keeping all students in school without discrimination.

In making the decision, Minister Nalova Lyonga called on educational authorities to constantly take measures to boost both pedagogical and psycho-pedagogic activities toward promoting reproductive health among students.

The Minister also requested school authorities to allow students confirmed pregnant to continue with school activities until the 26th week of pregnancy, after which they will be placed on maternity leave.

Educational authorities have also been called to authorize pregnant students to return to school after giving birth, provided that health, work, age, and disciplinary requirements are met.

Besides applying the same measures to the author of the pregnancy if he is a student, Minister Nalova called on authorities to mobilize all available human resources to provide psychosocial and psychological support to the students concern.

The Minister also advised school authorities to take appropriate disciplinary measures against any teacher or other staff responsible for a student’s pregnancy.

The Minister, however, insisted in the circular that the provisions override all contrasting provisions, especially those set out in circular No. 10/A/562/MINEDUC/ESG/DETP/DEPM/DEP of 19 January 1980 concerning student pregnancy in government and private secondary schools in the United Republic of Cameroon.

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