Youth parliament engages stakeholders to support teen mothers’ return to school

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Stakeholders in a focus group discussion
Stakeholders in a focus group discussion

The Youth Parliament of the Simon Diedong University of Business and Integrated Development Studies (SDD-UBIDS) has held a day’s policy dialogue with stakeholders in the Lambussie District on “Supporting Teenage Mothers To Go Back To School”.

The event was aimed at mapping out real strategies and mechanisms to be deployed and to support teenage mothers’ return to school in the district.

It was organized with funding from Plan Ghana, a child development Non-Governmental Organization, and with coordinating support from the Lambussie District Assembly.

Participants at the dialogue also included Representatives from Lambussie District Ghana Education Service (GES), Ghana Health Service (GHS), National Commission on Civic Education(NCCE), National Youth Authority, Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), and NGOs including Vibrant Village Foundation and CAMFED and the media among others.

Data from the GHS revealed that 13 teenage pregnancies are recorded per hour with a total of 110,000 cases in the year 2020 and as many as 301 girls reported to be impregnated every day during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The situation was severe for girls aged between 10 and 14 years (2,865 pregnancies ) compared to those aged between 15 and 19 years (107,023 pregnancies).

In the Upper West Region of Ghana, 386 cases of the reported teenage pregnancies over the last 5 years were aged below 14 years, while 17, 839 were between the ages of 15 and 19 years.

Dr Adams Abdulai, Patron of the Youth Parliament of SDD-UBIDS, addressing the stakeholders, said the alarming rates of teenage pregnancy was a serious problem and the government’s efforts in dealing with the situation seem not working hence the need for swift interventions to be carried out to get these teenage mothers back to school.

“The government’s “Back to School Campaign” has instituted measures to help reduce teenage pregnancies and school dropouts. However, the key question is: why are these interventions unsuccessful in ending teenage pregnancies…”

He said the Youth Parliament’s engagement with stakeholders at the district level was therefore seeking to provide a clear understanding of the dynamics of teenage pregnancy issues in different districts and help generate real strategies and long-term support for teenage mothers to return to school.

Madam Nathalia Bayuo, the Lambussie District Education Girl Child Officer indicated that between March to May this year, 23 students ranging between the ages of 15 to 19 years got pregnant, out of which 22 of them are from the JHS level and one student from the upper primary school.

She, however, expressed worry on the unwillingness on the part of parents, community members, and the teenage victims to avail themselves to be given the necessary support when they get pregnant and adding that most of the victims elope to the neighbouring cities and communities to give birth due to fear of stigmatisation and this makes it difficult for the GES to get records of most of the victims.

Participants at the event generated some debates, action plans, and strategies that could be deployed to get teenage mothers back to school and reduce the menace in general.

The participants, among others, suggested that traditional leaders should collaborate with NGOs and CSOs to provide support including scholarship schemes and building of a child care unit for teenage mothers to enable them to return to school.

They suggested the provision of intensive education and counselling for teenage mothers to make them accept the reality and get back to school.

They also made suggestions for the enforcement of bylaws to punish and make people who impregnate teenagers and make it compulsorily take care of the basic needs of the victims.

The Youth Parliament of SDD-UBIDS is organizing the policy dialogue with stakeholders in three targeted districts including Jirapa Municipality, Lawra Municipality, and Lambussie District, all in the Upper West Region.

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