PREVIOUSLY, the ‘Daily News’ published an article on 28th March 2017, which asked “Why are communities mum about the ongoing epidemic of school girl pregnancies? The issue of school girl pregnancies was discussed by the Parliamentarians in Tanzania and they couldn’t come-up with a unanimous decision, but were divided instead.
The Government intervened and said that if a girl gets pregnant, she shouldn’t be allowed to return to school. Some have argued that the girls should be allowed to go back to school but they couldn’t provide an alternative B plan for the so called “special” babies.
The aim of this article is to examine the dilemma and present the challenges if the mom is allowed to return to school without having an alternative plan B for the baby. A book on Power of Thoughts by Joyce Meyer defines love as the way we choose to treat all people.
She outlines three battle fields. These are attitudes, words, and actions. Then she concludes with a statement that states “always replace the wrong thing with the right thing”. The thematic issue at stake is whether returning the girl to school is the right thing as the advocators have been arguing.
If you think carefully you will notice it isn’t the right thing. If she is returned you will be reinforcing bad behaviour. You aren’t sure if she will not come-up with a second, third, and fourth pregnancy even before finishing school. If she returns to school she will have breastfed her baby, presumably, for only two days or so and then stops breastfeeding her newborn suddenly.
Isn’t that cruelty to the newborn if it’s not a sin? Why the hell did she bring the child to this world if she meant to torture him/her? The baby who will be left behind will lack the benefits of mother-to-infant attachment and this will damage the child physically, socially and psychologically.
Some people may argue that her grandmother may be able to care for the infant. Apparently a grandma can’t serve as a substitute for the mother-toinfant attachment. Children who are denied parental and especially motherly love and care, do endup having problems.
They turn out to be cold people. They tend to be cruel people because they want to retaliate. When they grow up they can’t cope with life. They can’t radiate what they missed. They want to retaliate, revenge and pay back for their mistreatment.
They find it difficult to love others because they didn’t get the mother-to-infant attachment which every child deserves. To illustrate the point let us take an example of a child who is breastfed by his/her mother for a period of five months and breastfeeding is stopped because of another pregnancy.
You will notice the next child who comes after will, often, be beaten by the elder sibling because he/ she was deprived that close attachment. Those who wish to argue that moms should be put back to school should give us a solid program of how they will address the physical, psychological and social repercussions.
In a nutshell we are arguing that there is no substitute for mother’s care. The babies shouldn’t be the ones to suffer the consequences alone. If it is the baby to bear the burden let the mothers also be there as well, period. For those who don’t agree let them give us a plan B of what happens to the baby.
The program should spell out how to take care of the babies. They should give us plan that will not leave us with any after effects when the children grow-up and become adults. They should come-up with a plan B to take care of the deserted infant while their mother is concentrating with her education.
Let the advocators of the mom’s comeup with a program that will serve as a substitute for the mother-to-infant attachment. In the meantime, they should remember that Parliamentarians were divided. Some of them were in favor and others disapproved the idea of moms going back to school fully.
We need to comeup with a substitute plan that will cater as a substitute. Those who are arguing should tell us what food substitutes the infant will be given. They should also tell us from where the foods will be available and how to prepare them.
In addition, there is the issue tender loving care (TLC) that the babies greatly need. Do advocators know where TLC is sold? What is the price for that? Children who are deprived breast milk tend to suffer from severe malnutrition.
They get marasmus and Kwashiokor or both and if they survive to become adults they become mentally re tarded. They become poor performers at school and the society at large. They can’t contribute fully to socioeconomic development of the country.
Advocators may argue that the baby shall be given cow’s milk, porridge and so forth. Unfortunately very few mothers know how to dilute cow’s milk. And worse still very few adults also know the frequency of feeding a child so that he/she can thrive well.
Many children who are denied their mothers breast milk and love tend to experience failure to thrive and if you check their weight you will notice they are on the grey or red zones of the growth chart of underfive children. Realizing that the foods that are available in different market places are sold at exorbitant prices one should ask mothers who are currently nursing babies to tell them what the running price of one tin of milk is.
It costs in the range of TShs 50,000/= to 60,000/= per tin of milk. Unfortunately, in order to feed a one year old baby, a tin of milk doesn’t last for a week. How many parents can afford to buy such a tin of milk with our salary? The author of this article doesn’t support the argument that mothers should abandon their babies early so as to go back to school.
Let the mothers take care of the babies but later they should be taught entrepreneurship skills including home craft such as gardening, tailoring clothes, and poultry keeping. They should also be advised to team up in small groups in order for them to get support from district council’s funds.