The District Director of Education of the Kpandai district in the Northern Region, Sixtus Adikwo, has stated that the absence of female teachers in the district has contributed immensely to the dwindling rate of girls’ enrolment in basic and secondary schools.
He said the presence of female teachers served as role-models to the girls, encourages them to stay in school and empowers them to achieve greater heights.
Mr. Adikwo made this statement at the Girls’ Camp organised by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) under the Better Life for Girls campaign – themed ‘Improving Girls’ Completion of J.H.S: The Role of Girls’.
He said: “My focus is on girls because if we look at the enrolment rate at the basic level, particularly on KG 2 and Primary, we have girls outnumbering the boys – but as they grow up to primary 6, to the JHS level, you see that the girls’ numbers begin to dwindle. So, there’s a drop in the number of the girls as compared to the boys. That is why we want to concentrate on the girls, because the girls’ drop-out rate is higher than that of the boys. We also think that when the girls get a very good education it will actually promote the general welfare of people in the district and improve education in general”.
Mr. Adikwo added: “There are many factors that account for the dropout of girls in school, and one major thing is the lack of role-models in the system. Most of the schools here don’t have female teachers. So, most of the girls believe that it’s not possible to reach higher heights. It’s when they see role-models that they believe in that they can look forward to see themselves becoming like them. But because they don’t see any role-models, they begin to think it is not a place for them, and that some of them will not be able to reach there. This is very disturbing, because anytime we talk to them that they can make it, it looks abstract”.
The District Director of Education also cited the unfriendly sanitary environment for girls, especially during menstruation, as another contributing factor for girls’ school drop-out. He said most of the girls lose interest in education because they do not get an appropriate environment for changing sanitary pads. Both boys and girls in most schools of the district share the same washrooms.
Another reason cited for the dwindling rate of girls’ enrolment is that parents do not give equal attention to their girls as they give to their boys. He said: “It is generally believed that the girls will go away and get married and therefore they are not part of the family; and with the patrilineal system, they think they will go somewhere and belong to a different family”.
Mr. Sixtus Adikwo again said teenage pregnancies and rural-urban migration are contributing factors to girls’ dropouts. “Also, pregnancies are part of the problem. Because when they get pregnant they drop out of the school – particularly at the JHS level. There are also cases like some of the girls who travel outside to the cities, and in the end they don’t come back”
“It therefore means that there is need for parents to take good care of them and also provide them with their needs. I believe there are certain things they lack, which actually motivates them to think that when they go outside they will have access to those things,” he said.
The concept of the Girls (vacation) Camp is to help address the challenges associated with retention of girls in school, to assist girls – especially those from disadvantaged communities – to catch up with lessons as they prepare to start and write their final exams.
Additionally, the camp creates a platform for some basic grooming, life skills and entrepreneurial skills to be acquired. At the camp, the girls were mentored toward building upon their potentials and boosting their aspirations through role-model interaction.
The ‘Better Life for Girls’ (BLG) is a three-year programme running from 2017 to 2020 that aims to provide adolescent girls in Ghana with knowledge, skills, and an enabling environment to make informed decisions on issues affecting them, and to help them reach their full potential.
The programme is led by the government of Ghana and is supported by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and UNICEF. The programme works to enable more adolescent girls in the Northern and Volta Regions access current and new opportunities for learning and development of life and employment skills.
It is also aimed at providing adolescent girls, communities and institutions with opportunity and evidence to engage on issues related to adolescent girls, including child-marriage. The programme will contribute to an increase in the availability of facilities and information for dignified menstrual hygiene management, and nutrition services for the prevention and control of anaemia.
It will also generate support for girls to stay in school, and community level social action to protect and empower girls.
The Better Life for Girls programme will promote and amplify girls’ voices by using technology, and address the low level of girls’ participation in social life. The Northern and Volta Regions are the focus-regions of the programme, with several interventions implemented at the national level. All programme interventions-coverage into districts – Kpandai in the Northern Region and Krachi East in the Volta Region – are to facilitate the identification of approaches which can holistically support the empowerment of adolescent girls in Ghana.