UWR Youth Parliament convenes sitting; getting teenage mothers back to school
The Upper West Regional Youth Parliament has convened a sitting to deliberate on measures kept in place by the Ghana Education Service, Upper West Regional Directorate, towards getting teenage mothers back to school over the weekends.
The sitting convened, under the auspices of the National Youth Authority with support from Plan International Ghana, on Saturday, November 6, 2021 at the Upper West Regional House of Chiefs Hall brought together stakeholders, youth and students in the region.
Majority Leader of the Upper West Regional Youth Parliament, Hon Sidik Marizuk, on the order of the Speaker, Rt Hon James Baba Anabiga, tabled the the motion before the house, "Measures kept in place by Ghana Education Service, Upper West Regional Directorate towards getting teenage mothers back to school", inviting the Ghana Education Service to present a paper before the house was opened for debate.
Delivering a paper before the house, the acting Upper West Regional Director of Education, Mr Razak Abdul-Korah, noted the education sector has had its fair share of the debilitating effects of the Coronavirus pandemic as schools were closed for well over nine months.
He revealed that it took a great toll on academic activities and rather affected girl children the most. He said when schools finally resumed, some girl children came to school with pregnancies while others did not come because of pregnancies and/or childbirth which prompted the GES to initiate measure to get them back to school.
Notably among them, he mentioned the GES has designed a school reentry policy allowing girl children in either condition of pregnancy or childbirth to return to school without recourse to same.
He said the guidelines of the policy directive clearly define the entry processes throughout to completion. He added that the GES also embarked on guidance and counseling services to have girls who found themselves in such conditions to return to school.
In furtherance of the mandate of the GES to ensure that all Ghanaian children of school-going age are provided with good quality formal education, the Service also initiated a leave-of-absence policy to allow for pregnant school girls to break from school to deliver and later return to school afterwards.
He added that the GES under the Ministry of Education together with its development partners also launched “back to school” campaign which called on parents, guardians and caretakers to return their wards to school.
Meanwhile, Abdul-Korah outlined a number of challenges hindering the GES efforts to have all Ghanaian children return to school after the Coronavirus break and girl children, in particular, when they become pregnant.
He cited social stigma, negative public attitude, sheer ignorance and poverty as some of the major challenges the GES has to grapple with in its efforts to get the girls back to school.
The Education Director added that lack of cooperation from some families and even some of the girls themselves was another demur against the GES efforts to have girls re-enrolled in school.
Mr Abdul-Korah lamented over the refusal of some parents or guardians or even girls to report incidences of pregnancy to the appropriate quarters to allow for actions to be taken to have such girls return to school.
He intimated that sometimes it takes the intelligence of teachers to detect pregnancies and rather report to parents, who seem never to be aware.
As a way forward, the Upper West Regional Director of Education called for continuous support by all stakeholders, including the media, families, parents and Assembly Members ensure the full realization of the Service’s mandate.
Speaking also at the sitting, the acting Upper West Regional Director of the Department of Children, Madam Matilda Chireh said a girl who gets pregnant does not mean she is bad but the society has failed the child.
She called on the generality of the society to take responsibility in safeguarding girl children and shaping them to become useful and responsible of the society.
Member of the Minority Caucus of the Youth Parliament, Hon Tahiru Lukman said the choice of topic was very appropriate at a time where the role of women is becoming increasingly necessary in building a sustainable society.
He said no society can fully realize its potentials if there is continuous relegation of women and girls to the margins of the society and thus, called for more emphasis on identifying the root causes of girls becoming pregnant and proffering lasting solutions for same.
An observer at the public gallery and student of Wa Technical Institute, Miss Rose Dorsuntey sharing her experience, said the sitting was helpful to her in a lot ways, being inspired by the stimulation that a mistake in life is not a dead end to life.