'You have no idea what girls go through' - Education Minister disappointed with reaction to free sanitary pads
The Minister of Education has expressed disappointment with the negative public reaction towards the decision to use loans to supply free sanitary pads to school girls in deprived areas.
"I am disappointed. This is a serious matter" Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang said, and told Joy FM's Super Morning Show that people criticizing the decision "have no idea what goes on in the life of a young girl".
Government has procured a World Bank loan, part of which would be used to provide free sanitary pads for school girls.
Parliament last Wednesday approved a $156 million World Bank facility to support construction of Senior High Schools in the country and out of the money an amount of 15 million dollars will go into scholarship for over ten thousand students to pursue senior high education.
Part of that amount would also be used to buy sanitary pads and distribute it free of charge to school girls.
The policy is in fulfillment of an NDC campaign promise, Minister of Education Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang stated.
But following public disclosure of the initiative, the Ministry has been criticised for using loans to supply free sanitary pads.
The Minority spokesperson on Education Professor Dominic Fobih and the MP for Weija Gbawe Rosemary Abrah Comfort are questioning the allocation for the sanitary pad.
But Professor Naana Opoku Agyeman justified the decision to supply free sanitary pads to school girls using the World Bank loan.
She said research existed demonstrating that in Ghana and Africa, schools girls "consistently miss 4 to 5 days every month of the term". This among other factors contributed to the high drop-out rate for school girls after primary school.
Calling for sensitivity in public discourse about the issue, she said Ghana's girl-child initiative is in danger if girls are dropping out due to normal menstrual cycle.
“If we lose them [the girls], we lose our future… the price of pads is less than losing the child in education," she said.
The former Vice-Chancellor of University of Cape Coast said although a good teacher, good facilities have an important role to play, ultimately the girl's condition is key to determining her progress in school.
It has also been discovered that the absence of toilets in schools is also affecting a girl's education. A problem, boys would not often have, she explained.
Although questions have been raised about the initiative's sustainability, she said once it is determined that poor girls are dropping out of school because of sanitary pads then stakeholders ought to find ways to sustain it after the World Bank support expires after 5 years.
Using an analogy, she said "because I don't know about what I will eat tomorrow does not mean I will not eat today". Story by Ghana|Myjoyonline.com|Edwin Appiah|[email protected]