Umurage Communication for Development (UmC) in collaboration with Bugesera District Local Authorities on Wednesday carried out a campaign to sensitize pupils and students at Groupe Scolaire Kamabuye on topics related to child protection, teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, Sexual Reproductive Health, Sexual and Gender Based Violence.
Some of the students who participated in the school debate.
The campaign that was also characterized by a school debate on the same topics brought together about 1,200 pupils and students of Groupe Scolaire Kamabuye, located in Mayange sector of Bugesera district.This campaign is also done in partnership with the Ministry of Health through RBC under the Global Fund & Swiss Cooperation.
Some of the key objectives of this exercise include engagement of the youth in school debates /discussions on topics related to child protection, Sexual Reproductive Health, HIV/AIDS, sexual and Gender Based Violence with an aim of promoting behavior change, encouragement of youth talk about issues that affect their society, consequences, victims, most known perpetrators and ways of address the same issues, working with Community Based organizations (CBOs) as youth mentors both in and out of school.
Some of the Judges during the school debate
During the exercise, some of the experts on the above topics are used to share experience with the youth in and out of schools and also bring about the formation of listening clubs on the same issues, through reflecting on different media platforms; umurage radio serial dram being one of the sources of information.
One of the knowledgeable trainers on Health issues talking to pupils and students at Groupe Scolaire Nyabagendwa
According to the Dean of students at Groupe Scolaire Kamabuye, Jean Baptiste Bizimana, such discussions, allow students to be aware of topics on both social and health issues. He recommended this initiative from UmC and encouraged students always to do research outside their normal studies especially on issues concerning youth in general.
This comes at a time when there is a national program on child protection locally dubbed as “Turengere Umwana” that the district of Bugesera has embarked on to sensitize youth especially on their rights and protection from unwanted teen pregnancies.
Teenage pregnancy has long-lasting negative effects on girls such as being a barrier to fulfill girls’ potential, school dropout, a life of discrimination and stigma from families, friends and communities. These young mothers not only have high risks of serious health complications to themselves but also to their babies.
Another group of students in Musanze district participating in a similar school debate
The teenage pregnancy rates in Rwanda have increased from 6.1% in 2010 to 7.3% in 2015 (RDHS 2015). Furthermore, 49.6% of teen mothers had their first pregnancy between the ages of 12 and 17.
One of the best performing students in the school debate held at GS Kamabuye Denyse Cyuzuzo expressed how being informed about such topics helps one from being trapped in bad behavior or misled by peers. “ I learnt more about sexual and reproductive health, especially on topics that many of our parents shy away to talk about with their children. I believe most of our peers encounter problems like unwanted pregnancies not only due to bad behavior but also lack of information on changes they experience during adolescent stage.
The best performing students during this campaign were awarded with scholastic materials including Scientific Calculators, Mathematical sets, exercise books School bags.