NEW HOPE FOR DROPOUT TEENAGE MOTHERS
The phenomenon of adolescent pregnancy has become a global canker hanging on the neck of teenage mothers particularly those in developing countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that each year, about 21 million girls aged between 15 and 19 years in developing countries become pregnant and approximately 12 million of them give birth. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) at least 700,000 births occur among adolescent girls below 15 years in developing countries.
Although, the global adolescent fertility rate is reported to be declining, the number of childbirths to adolescents is on the rise due to the growing population of young women in the 15-19 age group. Information available at the UNPF again shows that the highest number of teen births occur in Eastern Asia and West Africa. Reports from the Ghana Statistical service indicate that almost 14% of adolescent girls aged between 15 and 19 years have started child bearing with 11% live births. Most of the girls who inadvertently become pregnant before the age of 18 are usually pressurized to marry with the attendant social consequences such as stigma and rejection by parents and peers. The situation becomes even worse when there is deprivation of education and employment opportunities for the adolescent mothers. This phenomenon can potentially lead them to drop out of school and consequently jeopardize their education, a situation which often leads to increase in poverty, illiteracy and other social disturbances.
Studies have shown that various interventions exist to enable girls who go through such experiences to revive their future by returning to school after childbirth. To arrest the growing occurrence of teenage school dropout as a result of childbirth, the Non-Formal Education Division (NFED) Regional Directorate responsible for Bono, Bono East and Ahafo regions has since 2018 rigorously embarked on an initiative to help revive the future of teenage mothers by providing out-of-school education as well as skills development programmes. Intense sensitization is done to encourage teenage girls who dropped out of school to give birth to access the program. Through this programme, the Regional Office of NFED is complementing the efforts of the Ghana Education Service (GES) and other stakeholders in the education sector of the country. This ultimately will contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 which calls for an all-inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all.
In 2019 alone, fourteen (14) students were registered under this initiative from Odumase in the Sunyani West Municipality with five of them being teenage mothers.
Also, seventeen (17) out of sixty-six (66) students who benefited from the regions’ complimentary education program in 2020 were teenage mothers. This demonstrates the priority the office attaches to complementary education involving teenage mothers.
Nonetheless, most of these young mothers say, they were not given enough support and flexibility in their education during and after their pregnancy. They recount the unfortunate situation of discouragement by society and the lack of any form of home tuition or alternative teaching arrangements amid the troubles of their pregnancy.
Unfortunately, these girls stay away from school for a long time after becoming pregnant, resulting in most of these teenage mothers relapsing into illiteracy. However, we have been able to take them through our functional literary classes, which has given them a boost of hope for their education knowing that, their lives cannot be ruined by their conditions.
Fortunately, since 2018 through the sensitization drive of the regional office over 20 teenage mothers from the old Brong Ahafo Region have defied all odds to return to school. They now have a new lease of life to embark on their educational journey as their recovery rate is very encouraging.
Currently, these teenage mothers together with their kids are joyfully bubbling after they successfully went through our CBE facilitation, sat for the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) and have been able to triumph through to various second cycle institutions in the country.
A beneficiary testified to a Journalist ”I dropped out of school when I was 16 years of age due to pregnancy. Since then, I have been in the house and currently with two (2) children, but thanks to this initiative, I am very hopeful for a brighter future”. Another beneficiary Agnes, 22 years old mother has also benefited from the NFED free remedial classes. She admonished, “I would like to tell my colleagues out there to join these free services so that, next year they can join the Government’s free Senior High School program”. Additionally, Justina a 19-year-old teenage mother who dropped out in her final year due to pregnancy also said, “I will advise all my colleagues who are facing a similar situation to come and join the centre and benefit from their free intriguing services”.
It is worth stating that, while facilitating their studies, the Division also prepare the girls for their new role as mothers, identify the potentials in them and encourage them to apply for further education. Some teenage mothers under our services are also benefiting from other life skills classes and counselling among others.
Matilda, another beneficiary told journalists, “I finished Secondary School fifteen (15) years ago but poorly performed. Based on that, I ruled out furthering my education and went into trading. Unfortunately, my shop got razed down by the fire. Consequently, life became unbearable for me and my family. So I decided to find another way out. This is why I joined the NFED’s free classes and I am very optimistic that, I can further my education to achieve my dream job”.
Furthermore, a graduate who couldn’t excel after completing school two years ago showed gratitude to the NFED for the opportunity given to them. “I am very grateful to Non-Formal Education for giving me this opportunity to rewrite the WASCE because I completed school in 2018 and couldn’t excel in my exams, in fact, I never thought I could get this opportunity but was fortunate to get it from the NFED. I say God bless them”.
The Non-Formal Education Division Regional Directorate responsible for the Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regions is confident of reducing the incidence of teenage pregnancies and inculcating confidence and hope in them. We have been demonstrating love, encouragement and inspiration to teenage mothers and their babies especially in their period of hopelessness.
Most importantly, our new programs are aimed at giving young mothers who still want to further their education enough reasons to be cheerful and rebuild their self-confidence and esteem.
Moreover, we have found that early parenthood should not be a guarantee for educational and social deprivation. Hence, we are extending our services to more districts in the regional directorate where some communities have been infamous for this phenomenon. This, the office believes can potentially help influence their lives positively.
No matter the situation they find themselves, the office is keen on supporting all school dropouts, teenage mothers and students who could not make it to their desired educational heights due to poor academic performance. The office also encourages them to eschew worries and rely on them, because there are opportunities available to get them on the right path in life.
The office believes that they all deserve another chance; because literacy is not only a tool for social transformation but an alternative for building a new moral life. Also, more people becoming functionally literate would help reduce negative practices such as child labour, drug abuse and improve the conduct of business in society.
Sponsored By UNESCO
NFED, Ahafo, Bono & Bono East
This year’s International Literacy Day (ILD)celebration took place at the forecourt of the Bonokyempem Hall in Techiman, the capital of the Bono East Region on Wednesday, 8th September, 2021. Under the auspices of UNESCO, the Day reminds all member countries of the United Nation’s commitments to literacy activities since 1966. Also, the day prompts the world of the importance of literacy for individuals, communities and nations as well as the need to intensify efforts towards more literate societies. The global theme for this year’s celebrations is “Literacy for a Human Centred Recovery: Narrowing the Digital Divide” whilst the national theme is “Complementary Education and Human Development in the COVID-19 Era: The Role of Digital Literacy”. Hon. Gifty Twum-Ampofo read a speech on behalf of the Minister for Education, Hon. Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum. In attendance were the Banmuhene of Techiman Traditional Area, the Bono Regional Minister, Hon. Kwasi Adu Gyan and the former Minister for Education, Prof. Christopher Ameyaw Akumfi. On behalf of the UNESCO Country Director, Mr Diallo Abdourahamane, Ama Serwah Nierquaye-Tetteh delivered a solidarity message at the durbar. In relation to the 2021 Literacy year theme, the Executive Director of CENDLOS, Nana Gyamfi Adwabour, delivered a message on digital learning. Other dignitaries present were Rev. Fr. Martin Oduro Bilson and Sheik Kyei who did the opening and closing prayers respectively. In his address, the executive Director of NFED now known as Complementary Education Agency (CEA), Mr. Francis Asumadu who hosted the programme expressed his gratitude to the Government of Ghana for granting the Division an Agency status with Complementary Education ACT (1055, 2020).
He also thanked the Minister for Education, Hon. Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum for being instrumental with the rebranding with the CEA ACT(1055, 2020) .
He said, the new NFED/CEA will commence by rolling out 4 major programmes, namely: 1. Enhanced Functional Literacy Program,
- Remedial Education for school dropouts,
- Complementary Basic Education (CBE) for Out of school Children (OoSc) and
- Occupational Skills Development (OSDs) leading into Technical and Vocational Education.
Mr. Francis Asumadu also thanked the staff and Regional Director responsible for Ahafo, Bono and Bono East Regions for accepting the challenge to prepare the grounds for the celebration of the 2021 ILD in Techiman. He mentioned that, CEA mandate will be successful if the staff of the division change their attitude towards the work leading to a change in the organizational culture.
MINISTRY OF EDUCATION GIVES FIVE ISUZU PICK-UPS TO NFED.
The success of programme activities implementation and management, especially, field projects emanate from planned and thoroughly designed schedule of monitoring and evaluation.
It always presents a challenge, when the need arises for monitoring to be carried out or scaled up without vehicles to travel across the country.
The Fleet of the Division has broken down beyond repair leaving the Division with limited movement in the Regions, Metropolitans, Municipals and Districts of the country. This has thereby restricted the monitoring of programmes across the country.
Therefore, the presentation of the five Isuzu Pick-up vehicles to the Non-Formal Education Division (NFED) by the Ministry of Education came as a relief and a stitch that saved the monitoring aspect of the organization.
A sigh of relief is here carried by these Isuzu Pick-ups. Though five are severally inadequate, bird in hand is worth two in the bush.
The Division is future-full-of-hope that the Minister for Education, Hon. Dr. Matthew Opoku-Prempeh will extend further support to augment the fleet in all the Regions for effective monitoring.