A university in Uganda has dropped a requirement for female nursing and midwifery students to take a pregnancy test before taking their exams after facing backlash.
Kampala International University issued a statement on Tuesday saying: “This is to inform all female nurses and midwives that you are supposed to go to KIU-TH for a pregnancy test with a fee of UGX 5000 payable to the hospital accounts office.”
He added: “If you don’t, you won’t sit for the UNMEB (Uganda Nursing and Midwifery Board) exams.”
A fee of 5,000 Ugandan shillings is about $1.33.
Epidemiologist Catherine Kyobutungi, executive director of the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), shared a photo of the announcement on Twitter on Wednesday and wrote: “This is absolute hogwash, biased and unacceptable.”
She added: “Nursing and midwifery students being asked to take pregnancy tests at their own expense as a condition for sit-down exams is utter nonsense!!!”
Dr. Githinji Gitahi, CEO of non-profit Amref Health Africa, he responded tweeting: “What? Why; Really? Because what does pregnancy have to do with exams? Does the fetus give undue advantage to the examination? I’m so confused.”
Women’s Rights Organization FIDA Uganda posted a photo of a letter sent to the private university, reminding the institution that Article 33 paragraph 3 of the country’s 1995 Constitution “provides protection to women and their rights, taking into account their unique position and natural maternal functions in society and this same article further prohibits discrimination against women and guarantees their full and equal dignity as a person with men”.
On Thursday, the university reversed its policy.
“We are informing you all that the internal pregnancy and pregnancy screening memo dated November 8, 2022 has been rescinded (withdrawn),” wrote Professor Frank Kaharuza, associate vice-chancellor of the university’s West Campus, in a statement released by the university on Twitter.
“Please focus on your UNMEB exam preparation. I wish you all the best in your upcoming exams,” he continued.
The university also responded to FIDA Uganda in an email, shared by the rights group at Twitterconfirming that “no student will be stopped from taking exams because they have not taken a pregnancy test”.
FIDA Uganda tweeted: “We are grateful for the cooperation of the vice-chancellor’s office and seek to remind all academic institutions that any attempt to police student bodies represents an act of discrimination against the student body and violates their physical autonomy. .”
CNN has reached out to Kampala International University for comment.