C/R records 215 Pregnancies among JHS 3 Students

The Ghana Education Service’s (GES) report on school pregnancies, taken from 19 out of the 20 districts in the Central Region, indicates that 215 pregnancies were recorded among junior high school (JHS) 3  students during the just-ended Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE). The acting Regional Director, Department of Gender, Central Region, Mrs Thywill Eyra Kpe, made this known at the opening of a two-day policy dialogue for heads of schools and girl-child education officers at Moree in the Central Region on Wednesday. Reproductive health rights The programme is being organised with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), to protect and promote the legal and reproductive health rights of women and girls in the region. Mrs Kpe described the situation as worrying and, therefore, stressed the need for a concerted and pragmatic effort from all stakeholders to address it. “More worrying is the situation where most of these teenage girls are forced into marriage instead of being encouraged to return to school. This terminates their future aspiration and should be critically dealt with,” she stressed. Vulnerability of teenagers She said another area where the girls were vulnerable and prone to adolescent pregnancy was Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), where cases of defilement in the region formed 9.40 per cent of total crimes in the region. Mrs Kpe said assault and neglect of parental responsibility formed 47.9 and 41.41 per cent respectively and therefore, underscored the need for targeted advocacy of responsible parenting and prevention. Comprehensive approach “Since SGBV, early marriage and teenage pregnancy happen in communities and among girls of school age, there is the need for a collective and comprehensive approach to tackle these issues, bringing on board all stakeholders from these segments of the society,” she said. She said within the past year, the sector ministry had also worked assiduously to get the National Gender Policy and the Family and Child Welfare Policy, approved by Cabinet; namely the Affirmative Action Policy aimed at reserving 40 per cent of all public appointments and positions for women. Mrs Kpe said taking full advantage of the provisions in those policies would require the need to pay greater attention to the education of girls to properly equip them for those opportunities. Innovative ideas The UNFPA’s Focal Person for the Central Regional Co-ordinating Council, Mr David Allan Paintsil, said the council had attached importance to the programme and called on participants to come out with innovative measures to help address the problem. “I encourage you to come out with innovative ideas that will help us to resolve the challenges that confront us as a region and the country as a whole,” he said.