By Clare Muhindo and Grace Amme
The ministry of education has developed a reader to teach primary school girls how to manage their menstrual periods, in a bid to reduce the number of school drop outs.
The reader titled “Understanding and managing Menstruation,” was officially launched yesterday by the State Minister of Primary Health, Sarah Opendi at the menstrual hygiene management conference, held at Hotel Africana in Kampala.
Sarah Opendi, while launching the reader said that the book will empower the girl child with knowledge on how to reduce reproductive tract infections and also provide information on handling oneself during menstrual cycle.
“The biggest challenge is that most rural schools do not have enough facilities. Guidelines exist, but they are not enforced, that is why we are going to send the reader to all primary schools to act as a reference for all stake holders,” Opendi said.
Dr. Jane Egau Okou, the Assistant Commissioner for Instructor and Tutor Education in the Ministry of Education and Sports, said the main objective of the initiative was to raise awareness on the impact of poor menstrual management and demonstrate sustainable good practices on menstrual management.
“Menstruation is not something people want to freely talk about, yet the effect it has on education is enormous,” Egau said.
According to research carried out by the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) in 140 primary schools in seven districts of Uganda, to understand the impact of menstrual management on girls in school, 77% of girls miss school between 2 to 3 days during their monthly periods.
The same research shows that 61% of girls, according to senior women teachers have dropped out of school due to menstrual management.
Wilberforce Kimezere, the Water and Sanitation Hygiene specialist at UNICEF urged the government to extend sanitary facilities to upcountry schools so as to keep the girl child in school.
“Girls in rural settings face stigma and other psychological challenges, which bar them from attending school regularly. An investment in girl child education is critical for them to reach their full potential,” Kimezere said.
The conference dubbed, “break the silence on menstruation, keep girls in school,” which is the first of its kind in Uganda was organized by Ministry of Education and sports, Ministry of Gender, Labour and social development, Ministry of Health and Civil society actors and organizations.
The purpose of the conference was to draw attention to the largely neglected challenges that affect girls during their menstrual period, the most outstanding being missing school, especially in rural areas.
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