Thirty-nine (39) basic school girls have been impregnated in the Wa East District of the Upper West Region in the first half of 2017, as against 28 within the same period in 2016.
Mr. Evans Kpebah, Wa East District Director of Education, disclosed this during the “Let Girls Learn; End Child Marriage Campaign” launched at Funsi by Community Development Alliance (CDA-Ghana), with funding from STAR Ghana under the Gender and Social Inclusion programme window.
Addressing the stakeholders’ forum, the District Director of Education noted that, Child Marriage and Teenage pregnancies were the biggest drawbacks of girls’ education in the District.
Mr. Kpebah mentioned that, Gurumbelle; a farming community in the district accounted for nine out of the 39 pregnant school girls within the first half of 2017.
He lamented the lack of support from relevant stakeholders to get perpetrators punished according to the law, saying the lack of punishment was the major cause of the rising numbers in teenage pregnancies and child marriage in the district.
Mr. Kpebah said the launch of the campaign in the district was timely, and described himself as the happiest person while giving a firm commitment to support the implementation of the project in the district.
Mr. Issifu Salifu Kanton, Executive Director of CDA, said until the many obstacles surrounding girls’ education were consciously addressed, girl-child education would continue to lag behind.
He said education performance in the Upper West Region was generally poor, but that of the girl child was even worse.
He noted that the “Let Girls Learn; End Child Marriage Campaign”, would work towards achieving child marriage free communities where girls living in rural communities have equal rights and opportunities to education, health and development aspirations.
Mr. Kanton hinted that, society would become a better place if girls were protected against child marriage and teenage pregnancies, and also empowered to become responsible citizens in society.
Madam Mercy Dakogri, the Gender and Social Protection Officer for CDA, who gave the overview of the project, said it was an initiative which seeks to influence changes in the socio-cultural and religious norms that prevents and eliminates child marriage, whiles advancing the education of girls and young women in the region.
She said the project would increase preventive action among families, traditional authorities and religious leaders to abolish child marriage in their communities.
She added that the project would collaborate with District Assemblies, Ghana Education Service and Chiefs and Queen mothers to influence the adaption of gender equalities, norms and the abandonment of child marriage.
“The project will further promote the “The Youth Models of Change (YoMC) concept which will inspire girls and young women to drive change in social, cultural and religious norms by working through existing structures”, she added.
She said the overall goal of the project was to end the practice of child marriage while enabling girls to pursue their educational and vocational aspirations.
A total of 10 communities are to benefit from the implementation of the project in the district.