Story: Rahamatu-Lahi Zakaria | Producer, Breakfast Live Show
Africa Education Watch with support from Star-Ghana Foundation held a one-day stakeholders’ engagement on Ghana Education Service (GES) back to school campaign and re-entry policy for pregnant girls and school mothers in Tamale on Thursday, 27th January 2022 at the Modern City Hotel.
The GES back to school campaign and re-entry policy for pregnant girls and school mothers was started three years ago as part of the government’s COVID-19 resilience strategy to ensure that all children return to school after school closures. The campaign is being implemented in 196 districts with support from UNICEF and partners.
The campaign looks at four thematic areas thus, to ensure schools are safe for children, ensures all children, especially pregnant schoolgirls and young mothers re-enter school, provide psycho-social support to school children including pregnant girls and their caregivers and providing school items for girls in school to prevent drop-out. About 10,800 girls have returned to school between the launch of the policy in 2018 and 2020.
Every intervention has its own challenges and the GES back to school campaign and re-entry policy for pregnant girls and school mothers is no different. The executive director for Africa Education Watch, Mr Kofi Asare in a presentation mentioned some of the challenges of the project.
‘’Unsustainable Funding is a major challenge for the policy. The Policy and BTS Campaign implementations are currently being funded by international organizations such as UNICEF, UKaid and UNESCO, with very little or no direct funding from the government, apart from institutional support’’.Mr Kofi Asare
The rest are Inadequate Staffing, Misconceptions about teenage pregnancy, Infrastructure deficits, Limited coverage, (The Back-to-School Campaign is not being implemented in some 64 districts across the country), Poor coherence and institutional collaboration.
The recommendation given by the Africa Education Watch is, Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) Education strategy should be reviewed to attain synergy between GES and GHS, Reproductive Health CSOs, The MoE should fund a re-entry campaign that provides material support to economically vulnerable PSGs and TMs, The GES must intensify and sustain education on the nuances of school dropout resulting from teenage pregnancy to clear all misconceptions, GES must identify and engage all relevant stakeholders at the national and local level to ensure collaboration and synergies in strategy and resources, and GES must institute a mentorship programme using successful re-entrants who have completed school and impacted society.
Africa Education Watch is supported by Star-Ghana Foundation under its partnership beyond the Aid program with funding from Foreign Common Wealth Development of the people of the UK government.
Rita Ntoso Ofoe, the Programmes Officer at Star-Ghana Foundation read a speech on behalf of the Executive director, Alhaji Ibrahim-Tanko Amidu. She highlighted the reason her organization is supporting the GES re-entry policy guideline.
‘’The GES project which is a partnership beyond aid seeks to strengthen civil societies capacity to engage with government and other duty bearers for inclusive partners in public service delivery particularly in the health and education sectors in the era of Covid and post Covid pandemic. To this effect, Star-Ghana foundation main goal is to support civil societies advocacy on the effective implementation of pregnancy prevention and the re-entry policy guidelines to encourage and guide pregnant schoolgirls and mothers to return to school’’.Rita Ntoso Ofoe
Rita Ntoso Ofoe reiterated the need for the girls’ school re-entry policy guideline in relation to achieving the sustainable development goal four and five saying ‘’Girls school re-entry policy guideline in Ghana like other countries is meant to foster inclusive reintegration of student mothers to continue their education after delivery. The guideline reflects and comprises of the SDG four and five of girls’ enrolment in school, gender equality and women empowerment with the hope that it will better position them to exercise the decision-making power and urgencies to contribute to the social and economic progress.’’
Present at the convening included, UNICEF, ActionAid Ghana, social welfare, department of gender, Ghana education service, Ghana health service, regional houses of chiefs’ representatives in the northern zone and other relevant stakeholders in the area of education and the development of the girl child. Representatives from these organizations and departments/ institutions explained to the public their work and how it helps to drive the government agenda on GES back to school campaign and re-entry policy for pregnant girls and school mothers.