Girl-child education officers in the Nabdam and Talensi districts of the Upper East Region have blamed some traditional practices and beliefs, as well as parental irresponsibility, for the many teenage pregnancies in the districts.
In these districts and others, it is traditionally unacceptable for a woman to give birth while still living with the parents and so when girls become pregnant even against their wish, they are compelled to marry the men who impregnated them. This mostly results in many of the girls dropping out of school to become housewives and mothers.
In the 2012-2013 academic year for example, Talensi had 24 girls becoming pregnant while in school and over 75 per cent became wives in order not to bring shame to their families. In the 2014-2015 academic year, due to increased sensitization by the Ghana Education Service and Link Community Development, through the Tackling Education Needs Inclusively (TENI) Project, even though 54 girls became pregnant in their final year, they all stayed in school and participated in the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).
Figures from the Nabdam district on the same issue were not available at the time of filing this report, but indications are that, the situation is not so different from that of Talensi.
Even though the situation is having a toll on the education of girls in these districts, the Nabdam District Girl Child Development Officer, Elizabeth Atinga, believes that continuous sensitization and engagement of traditional leaders in community durbars could help in changing the situation.
According to her, parents will have to also be educated to live up to their responsibilities, especially those concerning the education and development of the girl-child.
Madam Elizabeth Atinga was speaking at the end of a procession by school girls in the Nabdam district to end the Girls' Education Week Celebration over the weekend. It was organized by the Ghana Education Service in partnership with Link Community Development. The same event took place at Talensi, organised by the same institutions.
In recent times, some teenage members of the TENI Girls' Clubs in Nabdam and Talensi have been bold in opposing their parents' decision to give them out for marriage. They have also been able to overcome temptations to engage in sexual relations with adults and young men.
The LINK-TENI Project Officer, Bashiru-deen Yakubu, believes that very soon members of the TENI Girls' Clubs in the two districts, will have influence on their peers and educate them on the benefits of staying in school till they are old enough to work and marry.
The girls at Nabdam presented their petition to the paramount chief of Nangodi through his representative, while those in Talensi presented theirs to the paramount chief of Tongo, Kubilsong Nalebik Tang, at his palace.
From Ebo Bruce-Quansah, Nongodi and Tongo