Africa’s High Teenage Pregnancy Rate Demands Strong Response

AU Should Adopt Guidelines to Protect Rights of Pregnant, Parenting Girls

Throughout 2024, the African Union will mark the “AU Year of Education.” The aim is to renew collective commitment and joint action by African countries towards the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 on education, as well as the Continental Educational Strategy for Africa, designed to make education a reality for all children and young people in Africa.

However, tens of thousands of African girls drop out of school every year, many because they are pregnant or have a young child. A study commissioned by the African Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child found that one in every five adolescent girls in Africa becomes pregnant before reaching the age of 19.

Many will not return to school because they face huge barriers and have little to no support from schools at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives. Many are denied access to basic sexual and reproductive health services, such as antenatal and postnatal care, contraception, and abortion care. This impacts both girls’ and their children’s survival and development.

The African Committee study is clear: If governments don’t take swift action to tackle and prevent high adolescent pregnancy rates and address barriers faced by girls in attending school, they will continue to fail many girls, as well as future generations. Young people’s progress in education is interlinked with their access to comprehensive sexuality education, as well as access to quality sexual and reproductive health interventions.

To successfully mark the AU Year of Education and advance their education commitments, AU member countries should protect girls’ rights to education while also protecting adolescents’ sexual and reproductive rights. The AU should develop and adopt guidelines on protecting the rights of pregnant and parenting students, which should serve as a model of positive practice across the continent.


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