Madam Sakina Salifu, Girls Education Officer at the Gushegu Municipal Education Directorate says about 309 girls failed to return to school after schools were closed during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Madam Salifu indicated that most of the girls were either given out in marriage or were engaged in petty trading.
She made the revelation from a survey conducted by her outfit which showed that about some 119 primary school girls, 155 Junior High School girls and 35 Senior High School girls could not return to the classroom after the COVID-19 lockdown.
Madam Salifu announced this during a high level stakeholder consortium dialogue at Gushegu, on ending child marriage and trafficking in the Gushegu Municipality of the Northern Region.
Similar forum was held in the Karaga District in the same region.
The dialogue, which was on the theme: “Ending child trafficking and violence against children: The role of traditional and religious leaders” was jointly organised by the Savannah Women Integrated Development Agency (SWIDA -GH) and World Vision Ghana, both non-governmental organisations working to develop and empower women rights in the country.
Hajia Alima Sagito -Saeed, Executive Director of SWIDA-GH said the dialogue sought to solicit inputs from chiefs, religious leaders, heads of department, women and youth groups on ending child marriage and child trafficking.
She indicated that there were reported cases of child marriages and child trafficking in the Gushegu Municipality, and said it called for urgent deliberations amongst key stakeholders on strategic measures to adopt in getting action points to addressing the needs of girls in the area.
She said “Regionally, Gushegu tops in child trafficking. The beginning of this year saw the Municipality record some 19 child trafficking cases and other forms of child abuses, hence, the need for this dialogue.”
Madam Barbara Asare Amegavie, National Campaigns Coordinator, World Vision Ghana, said the dialogue was necessary as it would help keep the young girls in school to help reduce the prevalence of poverty.
She said, “When young girls are forced into early marriages, they drop out of school and the cycle of poverty will continue.”
Miss Lydia Wumbei, a victim of child marriage lamented the plight of other victims and urged the stakeholders to urgently come out with measures that would better protect girls against child marriages and other forms of abuse.
Participants amongst other things agreed on ending child marriages by customising and implementing by-laws at the local level that guaranteed the safety of young girls.