A total of 50 young ladies who have excelled in the 2011 BECE have received full scholarship packages from the collaborative assistance of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Ghana Education Service (GES) to further their Senior High School education.
The scholarship package which started in 2001 in take-home rations of the WFP schools with only three girls, have for the past 10 years, assisted 269 girls, most of whom had completed various tertiary institutions and contributing meaningfully in their communities.
Ms Kaniz Khan, Deputy Country Director of the WFP who was addressing the beneficiaries in Zabzugu in the Northern Region Tuesday, said this year’s recipients were mainly from the Northern Region, explaining that the Upper East and Upper West regions had achieved gender parity above national averages.
She said the scholarship package was introduced to increase girls' enrolment and retention in schools and consequently to achieve gender parity, stressing that the Northern Region still had low parity index of 0.84 and some girls in the Region still received take-home rations from the WFP.
Ms Khan said the WFP was supporting various government institutions to assist over 450,000 people in Ghana, more than half of whom were women and girls, adding that 60,000 pregnant women and nursing mothers were receiving nutritious food supplements.
She indicated that 130 women's groups made up of 4,300 women had been provided with income generating activities which ranged from retailing iodized salt, milling and fortifying local cereals to breeding small ruminants for sale.
Hajia Hawawu Bouya Gariba, Deputy Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs observed that education was a necessary tool for social transformation and must be taken seriously to reduce poverty, build self confidence and generally improve one’s quality of life.
She said her Ministry believed that the entire nation should share the responsibility of creating a favourable environment for the girl-child to enable her to compete with her counterparts, saying that 'ignoring her only perpetuates the retrogressive factors of illiteracy, ignorance, economic deprivation and inferiority complex.'
Hajia Gariba congratulated the WFP for all its initiatives which focus on women and children, which she said were important in helping deprived women to scale up from their difficulties.
Mr. Charles Aheto-Tsegah, Deputy Director General of the Ghana Education Service, expressed worry that the GES target of reaching gender parity in access to education by 2012 for primary and 2015 for JHS was unlikely to be met and could only be possible in five years time.
He said education performance report in 2012 further drew attention to the fact that access to education by gender is greatest for JHS with a GPI of 0.94 and that problems of retention were greater for girls who face higher risk of drop out.
Mr. Aheto-Tsegah indicated that a grant amount of US75.5 million dollars had been secured under the Ghana Global Partnership for Education Fund Application Programme to improve the quality of planning, monitoring and effectiveness of basic education in deprived districts.