The number of pregnant girls and lactating mothers who sat for this year’s Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) in October in the Wa East District of the Upper West Region, has reduced drastically.
The district which was noted for high incidence of teenage pregnancies and had 63 pregnant girls and lactating mothers writing the 2021 BECE, recorded only 32 of such cases this year, comprising 16 pregnant girls and 16 lactating mothers.
The Officer in charge of Girl- Child Education at the regional office of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Ms Justine Kpan, who made this known said the reduction was due to increased sensitisation of the girls against early sex and its implications.
Ms Kpan stated this on Friday in a speech on sexual and reproductive health education (SRHE) at the first session of the twelfth parliament of the regional youth parliament on Friday.
The theme for the first session was ‘Interventions by the Ghana Education/Health Service in improving the state of adolescent sexual and reproductive health in the Wa East District.’
The Officer who spoke on the theme ‘the role of Ghana Education Service in Promoting quality adolescent sexual and reproductive health education in the Wa East District’ said hitherto many girls dropped out of school even before the main examination which marked the end of their basic education.
So we employed the “back to school”strategy where we encouraged young girls to go back to school even if they had given birth and this was after the COVID-19 break as a way to get girls who became pregnant during the long break, to go back to school.
She indicated that the programme sought to encourage the pregnant and lactating school girls to go back to school and endeavour to complete.
After the first year of the dissemination, she mentioned that the number of girls who were either pregnant or breastfeeding and sat for the examination reduced as compared to figures recorded for previous years.
“We understand that SRHE has the potential of achieving a range of behavioural and health outcomes including reduced sexual activities and early sex among adolescents”, she said.
She mentioned that the GES was focused on encouraging responsible sexual behaviours among adolescent through the formation of clubs, and the provision of adolescent corners and counseling units at some of the basic and senior high schools across the region.
Touching on the theme for the sitting, the Majority Leader of the Regional Youth Parliament, Mr Sidik Marizuk stated that the focus was particularly on Wa East District because even though the issue was a regional problem, Wa East usually recorded high numbers.
He mentioned that the worrying trend had led to the several studies by the youth parliament and other youth advocacy groups on access to SRHE in the Wa East and West Districts.
Mr Marizuk lamented that results from the various findings of the study revealed how deprived adolescents in those areas were in terms of accessing SRHE and encouraged the various partners involved to step up their game to ensure the elimination of early sex and teenage pregnancies, from the region.
FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON FORDJOUR, WA