On March 16, the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, closed down all schools in the country. The decision to close down schools was based on the increasing number of COVID-19 cases. As at March 15, Ghana had recorded a total of six positive cases of covid-19.
The closedown of schools, as announced by the president, was to last for four (4) weeks. The main purpose of closing down schools was to contain the spread of the virus.
In the last Presidential address on COVID-19, the president of the republic extended the closure of schools to the ending of the month of May. This means that students are going to stay home for ten weeks after which the President will decide whether to extend or lift the closure of schools.
Impact of Closure of Schools on the Girl Child
The outbreak of the Ebola Virus in Sierra Leone around 2014/2015 also saw the closure of schools for a number of weeks.
Post-Ebola findings suggest that a higher percentage of the adolescent girls got pregnant during their stay home. A similar situation is likely to happen in Ghana if stakeholders do not put their feet down.
Likely Cause Of Teenage Pregnancy In The Era Of Covid-19
1. The socio-economic demands of the country make it impossible for parents to spend a lot of time with their adolescent children. These parents leave the house for work as early as 6:00 a.m and return late in the evening. The young adolescent girl is left alone to her fate. She uses her "free time" to visit friends and surf online as has been observed in recent times.
The adolescent girl, who is more vulnerable and has little knowledge about issues related to sex is likely to fall victim to the ploys of paedophiles and irresponsible adults.
The gap that has been created between parents and children (especially the girl child) makes it impossible for them to confide in their parents when they are faced with challenges. Often times, they try to solve it by themselves or rely largely on the internet.
2. The situation is not different in the villages. In fact, the number of teenage pregnancies in the villages have always been higher as a result of poor adolescent reproductive health education.
At the villages, most parents spend a lot of time on their farmlands or just exhibit gross nonchalance towards the activities of their wards. Teenage girls are always seen hanging around barbershops or with taxi drivers.
3. There's excessive attention on coronavirus. Government and NGOs who are into Adolescent Reproductive Health Education should intensify their education through community radio broadcast and other available means.
Ten weeks outside the classroom with less supervision from parents and an unrestricted exposure to the internet is dangerous.
Kindly share your thoughts on what could be done to curtail the situation. Should;
1. Schools resume
2. Government and NGOs intensify education on Adolescent Reproductive Health
3. Parents be solely responsible for their children's welfare?