The Girls Education Unit of the Ghana Education Service has identified parental neglect and pervasive poverty as major challenges militating against girls' education and retention at school.
Mrs Catherine Nutsugah-Mikado, the Director in-charge of Girls' Education Unit (GEU) at the Ghana Education Service (GES) who said this at the launch of Girls Education Network in Koforidua, in the Eastern Region, said if parents performed their parental responsibilities, teenage girls would not fall prey to rape and illicit sex, which often resulted in unexpected pregnancies and school drop-outs.
She said although the Unit had done a lot of sensitisation to stop teenage pregnancy, it kept occurring among young girls.She said there was the need for a paradigm shift in handling girls' education challenges, hence the establishment of the network to advocate girls welfare and advancement.
She said the network would coordinate the activities of all non-goverrnmental organisations and other donor partners that were working to improve girls’ education in order to achieve the desired targets and objectives.
Mrs Nutsugah-Mikado said the network would advance the cause of girls’ education by ensuring that every girl attained professional teacher status and was self-sustainable. She said the GES would soon come out with a guideline to ensure that girls who got pregnant would not be dismissed from school but would be allowed to continue schooling until delivery.
She said the guideline was not intended to increase teenage pregnancy, but to prevent school drop-out, saying "pregnancy is not a disease". "We shall use the Counselling Unit of the GES to psyche them up to understand that getting pregnant is not the end of the world, but also educate them to desist from illicit sex,” she said.
Mrs Cynthia Busumtwi-Sam, the acting Deputy Director-General of the GES, noted that in as much as the Unit wanted to improve the wellbeing of girls, efforts must be made to support the disadvantaged boys as well. Mrs Busumtwi-Sam, who is also the Director in-charge of Basic Education Division of the GES, launched the Girls Education Network, and encouraged the NGOs and all international partners to endeavour to streamline their data collection processes to ensure accuracy and help guide policy decisions.
She said an advisory body would be inaugurated to serve as a link between the Girls Education Unit and the Network to offer guidance and strategic support geared towards advancing the cause of girls’ education. Some local NGOs and international partners supporting the implementation of the girls education programme pledged their support.
They include; CAMFED West Africa, Discovery Alliance, Department for International Development, United Nations International Children's Fund, United States Agency for International Development and UNESCO.