Prioritisation of Girl Child Education in Ghana and discrimination against girls have been the focus of the 10th Anniversary celebration of St. Catherine, the first Catholic Girls School at Agbakope in the Keta-Akasti Diocese in the Volta Region of Ghana held on October 19 under the theme: Educating the Girl Child: an Asset to Nation Building.
“I am emphasizing the education of girls because of the negative implications which some of our socio-cultural beliefs have on girls. The Education of boys has always taken precedence over that of girls and we normally use social and cultural misconceptions to discriminate against girls in terms of educational access,” Madam Benedicta Tenni Seidu, the Director of Girls’ Education at the Ghana Education Service told the audience at a durbar to climax the decade anniversary.
“Even though the situation has improved today than years ago, and more parents are now educating their girls, there still exist some levels of prejudice against the education of girls,” she pointed out. She lamented that for no fault of theirs, some girls are denied access to education in some homes and areas of this country (Ghana) and many other developing countries.
She added that “The Education of the girl-child should not gladden the heart of only the Director of Girls’ Education but it should also gladden the heart of every male or female.”
The Catholic Church in Ghana has established many Girls Secondary Schools in all the Diocese that are top on School rating in the country and give quality education to Ghanaian girls.
Ghana has a female Population of 50.20 as of 2016 which outnumbers that of male, an indication that girls who are denied education will grow to depend entirely on their male counterparts and fail to utilize their full, God-given potentials. For this reason, there has been an old belief that the best form of economic independence and empowerment can only be achieved in Ghana through the education of girls.
In 2017, the gross ratio of female enrolment in tertiary education was 13.53 percent in comparison to 18.68 percent for boys. There are many reasons why girls in Ghana miss out on their education, and one of these reasons is something they cannot prevent and have no control over, which is their menstrual cycle.
Addressing the audience including Bishops, Traditional and opinion leaders, Madam Seidu, who is a staunch Catholic, said “with modernity and changes in time, the reasons cited previously for denying girls educational access are fortunately no longer tenable today. Girls’ education is very important, that is why the Girls’ Education Unit was established in 1997 to promote the education of girls and also work to eradicate barriers to their Education.”
She, therefore, called on Ghanaians especially women to join in the advocacy to support and empower the girl child discover their potentials, quoting the famous Ghanaian Statesman, Dr. James Kwegyir Aggrey that “If you educate a man, you educate an individual but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.”
This, she said, was vital to churning out responsible mothers and women leaders in our societies, emphasising that there are greater advantages for parents, families and a country when we educate our girls.
She stated that “the development of this country is inextricably tied to the education of the girls Child and it is only when we educate our girls that we can successfully fight poverty in this country and our homes, because of correlation between education and productivity.”
The National Director, Girls’ Education Unit, observed that the introduction of Free Senior High School policy by the Nana Akufo-Addo led government is giving hope to girls in the country. "The introduction of the Free Senior High School policy has lessened the financial burden of parents with many now pushing their daughters to school with no excuse for any girl to be left behind", she stated.
Madam Seidu said education was now accessible to all and called on parents to take full advantage of the opportunity and educate their children, especially girls and called on parents to do away with socio-cultural misconceptions that discriminated against girls and allowed their daughters to enjoy education to become responsible adults.
She stressed on the need to take girl child education seriously, affirming that the delivery of quality education to girls is a collective responsibility which each and every one has to take on without any reservation.
She frowned on the use of social and cultural misconceptions to discriminate against in terms of educational success and noted that “the best form of economic independence and empowerment can only be achieved in Ghana through the education of our girls.”
“Through Education, our girls will be able to acquire knowledge and skills, be well informed of their rights and responsibilities in society and this is one effective tool of fighting social challenges-teenage pregnancy, child-marriage, prostitution, child labour and the abuse of drugs,” she added.
Madam. Hellen Abla Avevor, the Headmistress of the St. Catherine School, commended the Catholic Church for its contribution to girls’ education through the establishment of numerous girls’ institutions across the country and called on stakeholders to prioritise girls’ education in the country.
She lauded Bishop Anthony Kwame Adanuty, Emeritus, Keta-Akatsi Diocese and Founder of the School, for his vision of establishing a Girls’ Boarding Senior High School a decade ago.