Following the unguarded statement of the Vice Chancellor of Elizade University, Prof. Olukayode Amund, recently about the institution having zero tolerance for pregnant women, this is not only condemnable, but discriminatory against pregnant girls and adolescent mothers in education.
We want to state unequivocally that all girls have right to education, regardless of their pregnancy, marital or motherhood status! The institution has clearly shown that, it is a crime for pregnant women to go to school.
For avoidance of doubt, Nigeria being a member of the African Union, was among African countries that adopted the agenda 2063, a continent-wide economic and social development strategy. Under this strategy, African governments committed to build Africa’s human capital, which it terms its most precious resource, through sustained investments in education, including elimination of gender disparities at all levels of education.
Two years after the adoption of Agenda 2063, African governments joined other countries in adopting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a development agenda whose focus is to ensure that “no one is left behind,” including a promise to ensure inclusive and quality education for all. African governments have also adopted ambitious goals to end child marriage, introduce comprehensive sexuality and reproductive health education, and address the very high rates of teenage pregnancy across the continent that negatively affect girls’ education.1
Despite this, pregnant students in Nigeria continue to face stigma and some drop out as a result. To remain in class and access antenatal care, pregnant students require social support from teachers, parents and professional nurses. There is need to encourage pregnant students to remain in school to complete their education.
Teachers and administrative staff including admissions counselors or financial aid officers are not allowed to discriminate against a new parent or pregnant student. They are also legally required to help make arrangements for them to be successful as a student given your pregnancy.
This is a call to the institution to as a matter of urgency retract the statement and review the policy, to enable pregnant mothers not terminate their education, but provide all the necessary support and environment for a seamless study.
We call for:
- An end to pregnancy-based discrimination in schools, in policy and practice.
- An end to expulsion of female students who become pregnant or get married and need for adequate accommodations for pregnant and married students in schools.
- The creation of supportive culture and doesn’t allow them terminate their education because of pregnancy, but allow students who wish to continue their education in an environment free from stigma and discrimination, including by allowing female students to choose an alternative school.
- The establishment of child care homes in schools to enable pregnant and lactating mothers/students attend lectures hitch- free