By Hazel Tendo
A section of Ugandans, Civil Society and Non-Government organizations were up in arms when Education Minister Janet Museveni urged parents to guard their daughters.
Minister Janet Museveni in her own words remarked that “I will not get tired of reminding you (parents) to always keep an eye on your children so that they do not get pregnant during this lockdown,”
I am glad that for once columnist Gawaya Tweggule has defended the position of the First Lady.
This was in his article published in Sunday Monitor of 12th December, 2021 titled, “Uganda’s parents: Busy making good money and losing their children.
“I can only compare it to meeting a green dog on the village road, I would speed dial my pastor for an exorcism session! Shared opinion aside, I can confidently say that for once the Learned friend was reasonable and objective about the mentioned matter even when it involved the government!
On a serious note, I can only pray that that his impartiality “foot” continues on the objectivity gas pedal going in his subsequent pen-ups. I am sure I would enjoy his ingenious writing much more, not because of a shared opinion, but rather because of the much more insight that objectivity allows when exercised.
Talking about child bearing and the parenting responsibility that comes with it, the learned friend Mr. Gawaya couldn’t have said it any better, “A parent who argues that their daughter got pregnant because schools were closed must have something very wrong with them.
If we enjoy the process of making children – hands up if you dispute that – we should also be man and woman enough to superintend the products of that process.” A parent who abandons the responsibility of raising their child is not ready to have the child in the first place.
Responsibility here is much more than getting a wife and appeasing your peers and parents. It involves paying school fees, providing the basic needs of the children.
Even more importantly, it includes proving a safe environment that the children can call a home and are guaranteed the freedom to go through all the stages of maturity before facing life on their own.
It’s the duty of the parent to know what is going on in their children’s lives on an ongoing basis. The parent has to instill morals, values, self-esteem and all the other invisible but strong walls that protect and empower the child to wave off the errant elements in the community that might threaten the livelihood of the child in the absence of the parent.
There is no perfect community anywhere in the world. I haven’t heard of a crime free community, it’s the levels and rate of crime that differs. Society will always have “hyenas” that look to take advantage of un-favorable circumstances like the long home stays for the children during the pandemic.
This calls for protection to be accorded to a child by the community, the government and the parent. It takes a child who has been well empowered and educated especially by the parent on how to waver off this evil lot of “hunters.”
A parent or any other community who carry a mindset that morals and values should be taught in school not home clearly need a mindset overhaul. It was shocking to see Civil Society Community jump on this narrative and join the crusade trying to crucify the honorable Minister.
You would imagine that most N.G.Os would be at the fore front fighting for the protection and safety of the young adolescents in communities that are prone to these dangers.
A good number of Organizations are supplementing the efforts of the government through its intervention efforts.
Global G.L.O.W. partners from Arts of a Child in Uganda for example have recognized the need for increased engagement with adolescent girls in their community, and are making it their priority to reach even more girls as this pandemic roll on. Some of the stories in the community are heart breaking.
However, I will not agree with Gawaya’s other view linking to tales of teenage girl pregnancies allegedly to a government that is badly run.
The indomitable task of stopping teenage girl pregnancies cannot be abandoned to the government. It takes collective efforts of the parents (the community) and all the other stake holders.
I pray that Gawaya continues to be reasonable and a befitting learned friend.