‘Over 70 under age girls were impregnated during the COVID-19 school closure’ -Education Minister

The installed Minister of Education Priya Manickchand told the National Assembly last Thursday during her Budget 2022 contribution, that over 70 school girls became pregnant during the COVID-19 school closure. The Minister at the time was trying to justify her government’s decision to force the reopening of schools despite calls from the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) and civil society organizations for more thought to address the decision.

In January the GTU President Mark Lyte told the Chief Education Officer Dr. Marcel Hutson that so far more than 108 teachers and 51 students have tested positive with the Coronavirus, and in particular what is widely believed to be the highly contagious Omicron variant. The Union added that a total of 82 schools have reported positive instances of either a teacher, learner or support staff testing positive for the virus.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry reported that a total of 15 children have died from COVID-19 since March 2020. Despite the high number of infections, the PPP REGIME refuses to budge from its policy by putting the safety of school children first.  Rather, it used a decade old issue of teenage pregnancy to justify putting students and teachers in harm’s way.

In 2018 the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported that in Guyana there are 90 births per 1000 young women between 15 and 19 years old, which is one of the highest fertility rates in the world. The report highlighted the need for a more serious approach from the Government in addressing teenage pregnancy in Guyana. The  country’s culture requires a multilateral approach by all stakeholders to change the behaviour of teenagers and to deal with the underlying issues such as poverty, gender inequality and education, the report said.

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