Nabdam: GES proposes measures to curb teenage pregnancies
Starr News has learnt an overwhelming number of girls are dropping out of school in the Nabdam District of the Upper East region amid a wave of early child marriages and teenage pregnancies in the area.
The worrying situation has led to the Ghana Education Service (GES) proposing some drastic measures including banning girls from all-night carnivals to curb the trend.
A number of factors, according to observers, are responsible for the situation. These among others include irresponsible parenting, participation of girls in all-night carnivals and the presence of some small-scale miners who take advantage of the prevalent poverty in the district to draw vulnerable girls into premarital sex and underage marriage.
At present, scores of girls mostly between 14 and 15 years of age have voluntarily dropped out of school and are living with men old enough to be their fathers as husbands. The worrying trend took centre stage at a parade of schools held on Sunday in the district to mark Ghana’s 59th Independence Anniversary.
The Nabdam District Director of Education, Edward Azure, told the anniversary crowd: “The alarming rate of schoolgirl pregnancies, forced child marriages calls for concerted efforts from stakeholders to stem the tide and reverse the trend if we are to succeed in producing the needed human resources for national development. I want to use this occasion to humbly appeal to our revered traditional leaders to appeal to their subjects to stop spinning at funerals because it’s one of the causes of teenage pregnancies and poor performance at school.”
But the President of the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs and Paramount Chief of Sakote, Naba Sigri Bewong, disagrees to the choice of banning girls from all-night celebrations, saying the idea has no legal backing. Speaking to Starr News, the president rather suggested the district revisits history by returning the missionary schools to their original religious managers to instill discipline in the youth.
“To me, we have to revisit history. The missionaries have been crying, ‘hand over back our schools’. I will add my voice. Let us hand over the schools to the missionaries? the Catholic, the Methodist, the Presbyterian, even Islam. Let’s go back to our roots,” Naba Sigri Bewong stressed.
The District Chief Executive (DCE) for Nabdam, Vivian Anarfo, disclosed that the assembly had engaged a number of non-governmental organisations including the Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana and Afrikids Ghana to curb the trend.
“Most of the time, those who marry early are those who get pregnant and rush to the man’s house in the name of marriage without any proper marriage arrangements. DEOC (District Education Oversight Committee) has engaged three NGOs to go into the communities to find solutions for us. We are now looking forward to meeting our traditional leaders to let them water down this canker,” the DCE said.
Twenty-five schools in the district took part in the independence parade that saw sixteen teachers and four staff members of the Nabdam District Education Directorate awarded for showing extraordinary commitment to their work in 2015.