While schooling clearly delays marriage, whether or not schooling delays sexual activity is much less clear. Most cultural norms say that girls should not be sexually active before marriage, but the fact is that, the world over, many are. The increase in school attendance in developing countries often intensifies contact between boys and girls, even where single-sex schools are the norm. These trends, together with the declining average age at menarche, mean that increasing numbers of girls are exposed to opportunity for sexual activity before marriage. Without access to sexuality education and contraceptive information and services, many girls become pregnant.
For many girls, becoming pregnant means the end of formal education. In many countries, pregnant girls are forced to drop out of school; in Kenya alone, an estimated 10,000 a year do so. Many others drop out to care for their newborns— and, if they marry, to meet the demands of their new husbands.