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Uganda Grapples With Pregnant Pupils Back To School

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Uganda reopened schools after two years of waiting as the country had shutdown to prevent further spread of the deadly covid-19 pandemic.

However, it has emerged that hundreds of thousands of girls turned up at their schools pregnant triggering a lengthy debate on whether to allow them in class or keeping them away to first give birth.

“It wouldn’t be a bad idea to allow pregnant learners back to school but what picture does it give to their peers that are not pregnant? I think pregnant students should wait and give birth and then return to school after some counselling,” says Ronah Kemirembe Kazo district woman Member of Parliament.

Meanwhile, Archbishop-elect of Kampala Dr Paul Ssemogerere says learners who got pregnant during the lockdown should be given chance to complete their education. However, he cautioned schools to ensure that the learning environment is conducive and free from bullying and harassment so that these learners can freely study without being stigmatized.

“Our primary objective right now should be taking children back to school. The quality, welfare and curriculum are secondary issues. Experts predict an estimated loss of Ugshs 8bn in five years if children do not study,” said Ssemwanga Gyaviira, Buyamba County MP.

But Bishop James Ssebagala of Mukono Diocese has directed teachers in Church of Uganda-founded schools to block pregnant or breastfeeding girls from their institutions.

The bishop’s directive contradicts the Ministry of Education guidelines to accept girls who got pregnant or gave birth during the lockdown.

“All head teachers, I want to tell you that we shall not allow pregnant or breastfeeding girls in class. When all girls turn up, carry out the usual medical examination so that those found pregnant can go back and give birth they will come back after giving birth,” the bishop said.

“Imagine someone saying even breastfeeding ones should be allowed to attend class. No, this we shall not accept because our schools were started purposely not only to impart knowledge but also discipline in children. How can a teacher be teaching when a girl is giving breasts to her child?”

The government said nearly 650,000 teen pregnancies were recorded between 2020 and 2021.

Livingstone Naitema, a retired education officer in eastern Uganda’s Luuka district says, “the situation of teenage girls getting pregnant is terrible. Girls as young as 14 years are giving birth. It is a ‘babies having babies’ situation.”

Uganda with a total population of 47 million has one of the youngest populations in the world and 55% are children under 18, few of whom complete secondary education.

President Yoweri Museveni said recently that underage girls that got pregnant and gave birth during the pandemic will not be expelled from schools when they reopen.

According to a recent study from the UN population fund “a total of 354,736 teenage pregnancies were registered in 2020, while 295,219 teenage pregnancies were registered between January to early September 2021. This implies that on average, over 32,000 teenage pregnancies are recorded per month.”

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National

Police Takes Awareness Against Crime To Iwawa Rehabilitation Centre

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It was all fun at Iwawa Island in Rutsiro District on Tuesday, January 25, as Iwawa Rehabilitation Centre (IRS) team faced Interforce FC in a friendly football match organized by Rwanda National Police (RNP) to raise awareness against lawlessness and drug abuse in particular.

Despite losing the match 4-2, it was all joy for the over 1585 young people currently undergoing rehabilitation at the centre, the vast majority for drugs, who have found an alternative to good and healthy life through sports and vocational training programmes.

Why addressing the youth, CP Bruce Munyambo, the commissioner for Community Policing in RNP, urged them to stay focused to the health and skills development programmes offered at the rehabilitation centre to live a positive life away from drugs and other criminal practices.

Iwawa isolated at the island in Lake Kivu, is one of the three national rehabilitation centres in the country.

It was established by the Government of Rwanda in 2010 with a mandate to rehabilitate delinquents of over 18 years old, who exhibit deviant behaviours.

Since then, the centre has graduated more than 27,000 former drug addicts, who were reintegrated into communities.

The nine-month rehabilitation programme offers pyscho-social health, education and TVET services to treat and transform the addicts into skillful people ready to start income generating activities when reintegrated into their communities.

“You have a chance to change your lives here, take this advantage. Draw lessons from the life you lived as addicts and focus on the new path.

Leave the past behind, do not leave here and again engage in abusing or dealing in drugs; leave here as reformed people ready to drive change, to inspire others still involved to stop it and to work with the police and other institutions to fight drugs and other criminal acts,” CP Munyambo told the youth.

He pledged the RNP support to practice what they will learn, when they are reintegrated back into their communities.

Triphose Murekatete, the Mayor for Rutsiro told the youth that the government will continue to monitor their development projects to ensure that they become successful.

She, however, pointed out the responsibility of families in supporting their reformed children not to reunite with their bad past but to follow the new beginning to productive life.

The mayor added that some young people are influenced to leave their homes because of domestic conflicts and they end up indulging in abusing drugs.

The event was also characterized by testimonies from some of the youth, who are undergoing rehabilitation.

“I wasted so many years in drugs and I became an addict. I am happy that Iwawa is giving me a new and meaningful life to take care of my wife and our two children,” said Frank Shema.

TVET courses offered at Iwawa Rehabilitation Centre include carpentry, masonry, tailoring, agriculture, literacy to illiterate youth and motorcycle riding.

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Rwanda Holds Dialogues With EU, €260M Committed

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Six major European countries held a uniquely designed meeting with Rwandan government officials on Tuesday to discuss EU-Rwanda partnerships.

Officials say it’s a regular political dialogue (as per Art. 8 of the ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement).

The dialogue was frank and constructive and offered both sides the opportunity to discuss in detail issues of mutual concern and perspectives for addressing these matters in the context of the EU-Rwandan partnership. 

Both sides took stock of the full width and breadth of their relationship and discussed a broad range of domestic and international issues, ranging from Covid response, economic development, governance and fundamental freedoms, reconciliation to regional and continental relationships, including the perspectives for further EU-Rwanda cooperation. 

The meeting also presented the opportunity for the EU to announce the formal adoption of its 2021-27 country strategy and multi-annual indicative programme for Rwanda, with an initial allocation of €260 million for 4 years until 2024.

Cooperation will be focused on the areas of Education, Skills and Jobs for Youth, the Green deal for development and Political and Economic Governance.

The political dialogue was co-chaired by the Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Vincent Biruta, and the Ambassador of the European Union, Mr Nicola Bellomo.

The government was also represented by the Ministers of Health, Finance and Economic Planning, Justice, National Unity and Civic Engagement, Trade and Industry, the CEO of RDB, the CEO of RGB, the DG of the Rwanda FDA, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Defence. 

On the EU side participated the Ambassadors of Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Netherlands, Slovakia and Sweden.

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Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania Conduct Progress Tour at Rusumo Falls Dam

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Emmanuel Gasana the Governor  of Rwanda’s Eastern Province together with the Regional Commissioner Kagera Region (Tanzania) and the Governors of Kirundo and Muyinga Provinces of Burundi on Tuesday jointly visited the Regional Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric Project’s to see the progress of the works set to complete this year 2022.

The Regional Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric Project was launched on the 30th, March, 2017 with an installed capacity of 80 MW (Run of River Scheme at 1320masl) that will be shared equally among Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania.

The transmission lines will extend from the power generation plant to Gitega in Burundi, Kigali in Rwanda, and Nyakanazi in Tanzania.

This project will develop renewable hydroelectric power as part of a broader program to support sustainable management of the Kagera River Basin and promote growth and poverty reduction.

The project upon completion will facilitate increased economic activities, private sector development, and investments in social infrastructure and services through improved access to electricity.

The project is worth US$340Million and US$128Million that have advanced to the countries as a loan from the World Bank and African Development Bank for the implementation of the Regional Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric project and the Power transmission lines respectively.

The Regional Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric Project (RRFP) is a hydropower project under joint development by the Governments of Republic of Burundi, Republic of Rwanda and United Republic of Tanzania through a commonly owned Rusumo Power Company (RPCL).

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