Pregnancies among secondary school girls are on the rise globally and in Kenya. As a social problem, it has adverse effects on the girls‟ academic performance, and career development as it results in girls dropping out of school and some are forced to early marriages. Despite efforts to prevent girls dropping out of school due to pregnancies, there is still evidence of high prevalence of pregnancy among girls in secondary school. This study therefore sought to establish social, cultural and economic causes of secondary school girls‟ pregnancies: Implication for counseling in Pokot South Sub County of West Pokot County, Kenya. The researcher adopted ex-post-facto survey research design. There were 18 public Secondary Schools in Pokot South-Sub County which had target population of 2436, constituted 18 head teachers, 18 head teacher counselors and 2400 students. Six girls‟ schools were purposefully chosen with population of 462 forms twos and threes who were enrolled by March 2017. A sample size of 210 students, in addition of 6 head teachers and 6 head teacher counselors to a total of 222 who participated in the study. A similar questionnaire for all respondents and oral interview schedule for teacher counselors and head teachers was used to generate the data. Reliability value obtained was 0.82. The content validity of the instrument was ascertained with the assistance of the supervisor and experts from the Department of Psychology, Counseling and Educational Foundations of Egerton University. Data collected was analyzed with the help of Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) computer program and presented in tables of frequencies and percentages. The study established, Social causes of pregnancy in the area of study as peer influence, media influence, neglect by parents, dating early and low self-esteem. Cultural causes as silence behaviour, it is taboo to talk about sex and sexuality matters, polygamous families and preserving tradition. Economic causes as poverty, unemployment, girls living high lives, for their parents to meet, bride wealth and infrastructure as among the factors predisposing Secondary School girls to pregnancy. The study recommends that the government, the Ministry of Education, School administrator, teacher counselors, parents and the entire community to have collective responsibility and realistic policies to address the surge of adolescents pregnancies. This implies that a combination of strategies with stakeholder involvement is needed to come up with a comprehensive solution to these early pregnancies.

1.1 Background Information
Otieno and Omondi (2008) reported that, globally 5.5 million girls age between 15 – 19 years give birth yearly. The World Health Organization (WHO, 2009) indicated that in the developed countries, such as United States of America (USA) have high incidences of teenage pregnancies, abortions and births. According to the United Nations Children‟s Fund (2010) USA‟s teenage birth rate was and is generally four times the European Union average. Countries located in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean also have high teenage pregnancy rates. In China and the Caribbean the rate of births contributed by teenagers are 2% and 18% respectively. The United Kingdom (UK) tops the list of teenage pregnancies in Europe where 27 in every 1000 teenagers give birth which is higher compared to Netherland‟s 7 in every 1000.

Garner (2009) stated that, the lowest teenage birth rates are found in the Scandinavian countries, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Japan and Korea. In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 50% of pregnancies are contributed by teenagers. According to WHO (2008) a relatively large proportion of young girls have their sexual debut by the age of 15 years, resulting in high levels of early pregnancies. WHO- (2012) fact sheet on adolescent pregnancy also revealed that about 16 million girls aged between 15-16 years give birth each year all over the world– most in low and middle income countries. The distribution of teenage pregnancy in Kenya varies according to geographical location, education levels, age brackets and income levels. Forty-seven percent of women give birth before 20 years while 8% before age 16 (Neal, 2015). The proportion of those who have already been pregnant is higher among those with primary education (Donatien, 2013).

Qualitative studies done in Australia about adolescent reproductive health revealed that perception plays a critical role in how adolescents cope with the decisions of adolescent health (Skinner et, al., 2009; J. L. Smith, Skinner & Fenwick, 2012). The adolescents who perceived adolescent pregnancy as a barrier to their personal career and social transition to adulthood have terminated their pregnancy. However, those who did not terminate their pregnancies but continued into teen motherhood perceive teen motherhood as a resource that fosters their personal growth (J. L. Smith et al., 2012). Skinner et al. 2009) revealed that although adolescent mothers were aware of contraception usage, they however use it inconsistently. Loaiza (2013) indicated that, the top five counties with the greatest increase of pregnancies over the next 20 years in Sub-Saharan African: Nigeria (9.2million), United Republic of Tanzania (3.7m), Democratic Republic of Congo (3.3m), Uganda (2.5m) and Kenya (2.3m). This implies that a combination of strategies with stakeholder involvement is needed to come up with a comprehensive solution to these early pregnancies. It requires the effort of the government, school administration, parents, and other stakeholders to work together to contain these pregnancies. The process is time consuming and thus requires affirmation from young people and a serious commitment of financial resources, to reach and facilitate a broad teenage audience.

Policies that are often intended to help pregnant adolescents end up harming them in the long run. Mashishi & Makoelle (2014) and Omwancha (2012) in their review of teenage pregnancy policies in South Africa and Namibia, found that, South African teenagers who became pregnant while in school were allowed to be in school till the seventh month of the pregnancy; these pregnant adolescent were excluded from school for up to two years after leaving the school in their seventh month. The policy of excluding pregnant adolescents from school in South Africa denied them of their constitutional right to education Mashishi & Makoelle-. In Ghana, a realization of the negative effects of policies that exclude pregnant girls from school has led educational authorities to modify existing policies and make way for such girls to remain in school. Despite this and other interventions, lack of resources for monitoring and enforcement have still meant that traditional cultural norms and negative community attitudes still prevent some pregnant girls from remaining in school. In Africa, sub-Saharan Africa countries, there are concerns about high rates of pregnancy related school dropouts.

According to Binstock (2010) these girls have fewer opportunities to complete their education after child birth. Also opportunities for social economic advancement are limited although he continues to argue that education was never a factor they thought could improve their opportunities in the future. Among policy makers and even the media, pregnancy is increasingly mentioned as a reason for premature school leaving in the region. Some girls resort to unsafe abortions for fear of facing expulsion from school and for fear that many girls who drop out of school due to pregnancy usually never return in school in some countries. Remes et al. (2010) state that, in Tanzania, cases of girls who have left school due to pregnancy have been reported, despite three decades of gender equality in education policy the law regarding pregnancy has not changed. Girls are still expelled from school when found pregnant.

The 2009 Kenya national population census report shows high levels of adolescent fertility in the country which currently stands at 94 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19 years compared to the global adolescent fertility rate of 45 births per 1,000 women. World Bank (2014) indicated that, in Kenya, youth population between 15-19 years of age accounts 25% of the country‟s population. Most of the girls in Kenya between these ages are still pursuing education in secondary schools. Pregnancies interfere with their education efforts at this level. Despite introduction of free primary and secondary education by the government, girls are still dropping out of school as a result of pregnancy. The statistics on school dropout due to pregnancy in Kenya shows that the problem demands urgent solution (Kenya Bureau Statistics, 2010). Also adolescent fertility is still high in many developing countries including sub-Saharan Africa (Loaiza, 2013). UNFPA(2013) projects that the greatest increase in pregnancy among teenage girls less than 18 years of age over the next 20 years is likely to happen in sub-Saharan Africa.

Also, a national survey by Kenya National Statistics Bureau (2015) indicated that 13% of secondary school students had experienced their first pregnancy by the age of 14 years and that pregnancy rates rapidly increased from age 15 (3.2%) to 19 (39.9%). About 40% of Kenyan adolescent girls without any education are either pregnant or have already become mothers with poverty and ignorance fueling this in rural areas. UNFPA (2013) indicated that, teenage pregnancy and early childbearing are complex issues which attract a great deal of attention from service providers, educators and policy makers in the recent years. These situations of early pregnancies, often leaves most young teenagers with low self-esteem, they lose their dignity, experience embarrassment, shame, as well as feeling a sense of being social misfits. They may take responsibility for their pregnancies or may decide to marry early and this may lead to loss of education and career aspirations.

The risk of teenage childbearing varies quite significantly across the predictor variables, and there are similarly obvious dissimilarities by area, creed and urban/rural habitation (Sarah E Neal 2015); Marline J. W., (2012).

In Kenya for instance, young women aged 15–19 are significantly more likely than older women to experience unintended pregnancy (Ikamari, 2013 ; Beguy,2014).This could be due to Sexual violence and abuse by peers, parents and other adults, including teachers (Joyce Mumah, 2014). Similar findings have been noted in Mombasa where a study of sexual behavior on youth in colleges and youth centers revealed that a significant proportion of women (16.9%) reported rape and financial gains (13.6%) respectively as reasons for sexual debut (Jin,2012).

Ikamari (2013) observed that, the situation may become worse, when they are not supported by their parents; they may opt to marry any other man willing to take them to cover up their shame as well as seeking financial and social security. These may lead to a more complicated situation such as; mistreatment, sexual abuse and battering. Some girls run away from home and engage in immorality such as prostitution, drug and substance abuse.

A recent report from Action Aid (2012) research says that, teenage girls who drop out of school, due to pregnancy, have increased instead of reducing. This calls for more research on causes of teenage pregnancies. Kenya Population and Housing Census (2009) showed that 9.2 million of the population is young people aged 10-19 years. Out of which, forty nine percent (49%) are female. Kenya Bureau Statistics (KBS, 2010) reported that the country has seen an increase in teenage fertility trend, where a quarter of young women aged 15-19 years fall pregnant or become young mothers. The World Population Day, (July 11th 2013) spearheaded by United Nations (UN), sought to raise the awareness about population issues. They focused on adolescent pregnancy which is said to set a hopeless future for Kenya and African Nations.

Kenyatta National and Referral Hospital in Nairobi cosmopolitan, records 219 to 240 babies every month that are born to girls aged below 20 years old. Citizen Television News, (March 16th2009), reported that, Pumwani Maternity Hospital, the largest maternity in Nairobi, records that at least four underage girls attend pregnancy check-up every week. Adolescent pregnancy brings change to the lives of young girls and in most instances negative social consequences such as dropping out of school. Society is negatively affected as socio- economic factors such as poverty; unemployment and poor literacy are interrelated with adolescent pregnancies. An empirical investigation on factors causing pregnancy rates in adolescents girls would strengthen the knowledge base and empower education of girls thus reduce poverty.

Secondary school girls‟ pregnancies are associated with a variety of factors. It is not simply a problem of sexual intercourse at an early age but rather it is an issue of much broader social, economic, cultural and psychological factors. These factors may include poverty, cultural practices, peer influence and sexual abuse. UNESCO (2010) reported that, sometimes, girls drop out of school because of early pregnancies and being unable to cope with the pressure of work and domestic chores.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) for West Pokot county (2011-2014) indicate that youth population below age 15 make up half of (52%) of the total population. The youth population therefore has implications on the county health and education agenda puts increasing demands on provision of services in this sectors. The report, further shows that, more than a quarter (29%) of girls aged 15-19 years in West Pokot county have begun childbearing; this is notably higher than the National rates 5.9% have first child and 22.8% have given birth compared to 3.4% and 14.7% respectively at the National level. Furthermore, the fertility rates for adolescent girls aged 15-19 have a birth rate of 133 per 1000 girls which is considerably higher than the National rate (96). The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (2005-2016) showed that, more than 22% of girls have children as a result of high bride price for girls which encourages parents to marry off their daughters at an early age.

With this background information in mind, the researcher aimed at establishing, the social, cultural and economic causes of secondary school girls‟ pregnancies and their implication for counseling in Pokot South Sub County of West- Pokot County. There are great concerns from heads of schools and parents, about the high rates of girls‟ pregnancies in both secondary and primary schools. Almost, every week, month, and term, girls are escorted out of school as a result of pregnancy related issues, which destroys the education goals of Kenya, such as, retention and completion of education as well as career preparedness for this girls. Thus the slogan “Educate a woman, educate the Nation” is not achieved.

Statement of the Problem
Teenage pregnancy globally is growing rapidly among school going girls in age bracket 13- 19 years. These challenges have made adolescent pregnancy a major policy concern. The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) brought to the fore the significance of addressing adolescent pregnancy and underlining contributing factors to be targeted. Even after much advocacy on the girl child promotion in education, career, and equal opportunities and the efforts to promote the advancement of the female community in Kenya, there are still staggering evidence of negative impact of young girls‟ pregnancies which impacts on their life potentials and cause great concern to those who care for them. The high rate of girls drop-out from schools due to pregnancy issues is very much experienced in the area of study as shown by Kenya Statistics Bureau that the rate of pregnancy among teenage is 29% in West Pokot which is higher than the National 19% .Thus the need to establish the causes of pregnancies among secondary schools in Pokot South Sub- County, which has been so evident than other four sub- counties and that there are more girls secondary schools in the region. Many of these who drop out from school due to pregnancy are forced to marry early, thus not given the opportunities to exploit their potential in education and their career aspiration becomes diminished. The result is continued poverty, violence, guilt and shame. There is the need, therefore, to carry out a research on social, cultural and economic causes that contribute to teenage fertility in the area. There is great need to provide a good framework for necessary interventions that would help realize Kenya‟s Vision 2030 and beyond of providing quality education to all children and improve the rate of completion of basic education especially for girl child. “Educate a woman educate the Nation”

Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study was to establish social, cultural and economic causes of Secondary School Girls‟ Pregnancies: Implication for counseling in Pokot South Sub-county of West- Pokot County-Kenya.

Objectives of the study
The study was guided by the following objectives:

i) To establish social causes of secondary school girls pregnancies in Pokot South Sub-County of West Pokot County

ii) To identify cultural causes of secondary school girls pregnancies in Pokot South Sub-county, West Pokot County

iii) To establish the economic causes of secondary school girls pregnancies in Pokot South Sub-county, West Pokot County

iv) To identify implication for counseling girls in Pokot South Sub-county, West Pokot County.

Research Questions
The following were the research questions of the study:

i) What are the social causes of secondary school girls‟ pregnancies in Pokot South Sub- County West Pokot County?

ii) What are the cultural causes of secondary school girls‟ pregnancies in Pokot south Sub- County, West Pokot County?

iii) What are the economic causes of secondary school girls‟ pregnancies in Pokot south Sub- County, West Pokot County?

iv) What are the implications for counseling secondary school girls in Pokot South Sub-county, West Pokot County?

Significance of the Study
The research findings may assist the government of Kenya, stakeholders and teacher counselors on how best to deal with the cases of secondary school girls pregnancies which have negatively affected academic performance and career preparedness of girls at early age. The policy makers in the education sector may benefit from this research to be able to come up with realistic measures to curb or control this situation of early pregnancies among secondary school girls for it seems to create a hopeless future for the students themselves and for the country‟s development. It may also help to improve the status and the dignity of young girls who fall victims of early pregnancies and early marriages. It may help to create more awareness to the community of the plight of the girls and appreciate them by giving them a second chance in pursuit of their future dreams. Many researchers have paid attention to the prevalence of adolescent child bearing in the world and more so in developed countries but few studies have focused on causes of pregnancy and implication for counseling.

Scope of the Study
The study targeted six public girls‟ secondary schools in Pokot south sub county. The respondents comprised six head teachers, six head teacher counselors purposefully selected and forms two and three students, who share similar demographic characteristic. West Pokot County has a rich cultural and social background that influences the way girl‟s belief. The study established the social, cultural and economic causes of secondary school girls‟ pregnancies: Implication for counseling in Pokot South Sub County of West-Pokot County in Kenya.

Assumptions of the Study
i) The study assumed that the respondents gave the information accurately and honestly.

ii) That, there exists well established and functional guidance and counseling offices in schools in West-Pokot County.

iii) That, the head teachers or their deputies or teacher counselors had up to date records of pregnancy cases, which continue to be a source of reliable and accurate information regarding the study.

Limitations of the Study
The researcher anticipated a number of challenges during the study as follows:

i) Respondents were unwilling to give correct responses but they were assured of confidentiality.

ii) Opinions and conclusions drawn from the study were limited to socio-cultural and economic causes among the Pokot. Generalization of the study should be done with caution.

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Item Type: Kenyan Topic  |  Size: 66 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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