Our Lady of Mercy Community Services (OLAM), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), in collaboration with the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) has organized a workshop aimed at building the capacity of Peer Education Patrons from basic and second cycle institutions in two districts.
The day’s training workshop organized at Paga in the Kassena-Nankana West District and funded by STAR-Ghana brought together 30 Peer Education Patrons from schools in the Kassena-Nankana West District and Kassena-Nankana Municipal of the Upper East Region.
The training programme which garnered experts from the NCCE and Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) was also targeted empowering the participants to help in the fight against negative cultural practices such as early marriages, widowhood rites and reduced teenage pregnancies among school girls.
Mr Emmanuel Atiiga, the Project Director of OLAM, expressed gratitude to the Navrongo Traditional Council and the two District Assemblies for the immense support to help end the negative cultural practices and enhance gender empowerment.
Whilst lamenting that a baseline survey conducted by his outfit indicated that poverty was a major factor that caused early and forced marriages in these areas which usually led to school dropouts, the Project Director stated for instance that in the last academic year, out of the 10 school girls from the area who got pregnant, seven of them were forced by their parents to go into marriage and stressed that if the trend was not checked, it would continue to jeopardize the future development of more girls.
Mr Atiiga indicated that the NGO had identified numerous interventions including radio Programmes, engagement with stakeholders such as Traditional authorities, NCCE and CHRAJ as well as the establishment of skill training and counselling centres in the project operational areas to complement the efforts being made so far.
“The formation of the clubs is linked to our new radio programme dubbed “BIA MANGA,” which means Children’s Time, in partnership with the Nabiina Community Radio,” Mr Atiiga added.
“It is a platform for children and the adolescent child to have weekly discussions on radio on all negative forms of actions that are inimical to the youth and sexual reproductive health education.
“It would also discuss issues on child rights and their responsibilities, entrepreneurship, peer influences and their effects and other related issues.”
The Patrons after going through the training were taken through how to effectively form Peer Education Clubs structures, activities to be ran by the clubs among others to help reduce the high numbers of forced and early marriages and teenage pregnancies among school girls which they pledged to work hard to combat.
Mr Robert Dompare, District Director for the Kassena-Nankana West disclosed that the Peer Educators School Clubs were good avenues for instilling good leaderships in the students to build their confidence.
Mr Dompare expressed regret about the low patronage of town hall meetings and public hearing by members of the general public, noted that civic clubs formed by his outfit in collaboration with the NGO had taken notice of that and were working vigorously to empower more school children at the Civic Club levels to be able to socially audit public office holders to ensure accountability and transparency.