Stakeholders in Education in the Eastern region are alarmed at the high rate of teenage pregnancy among students in both Basic and Senior High Schools.
According to some heads of Senior High Schools in the region, some female students resumed school pregnant and wearing engagement rings.
“Some female students returned to school pregnant and wearing engagement rings. They got impregnated and were forced into marriage. But the policy says you cannot sack them from the school so I allowed them to stay in school. I only asked them to remove the rings. In all this it will get to a stage they will drop out of school when the belly protrudes,” the Headmistress of Kwahu Nkwatia Presbyterian Senior High School, Mrs Cythia Anim said in a meeting in Koforidua by Girls Education Network formed by Plan International Ghana.
The meeting was part of the commemoration of the Day of the African Child marked June 16 every year.
The Headmistress who is a former Eastern Regional Officer of Girls Education at the Ghana Education Service added “although there is a policy by GES that the girls should be in school even when they are pregnant. We the heads of Senior high schools are in agreement with that government policy but we realized that the stakeholders have to go back to the drawing board and the government as a whole to review it…because the students are abusing it and doing their own things.”
She joined calls by other stakeholders advocating for amendment of aspects of the laws of Ghana that allows a person to consent to sexual activity at the age of 16 but could only marry when the person reaches 18 years.
This arrangement, they say exposes young girls to danger and create a window for people to take advantage of them resulting in the current alarming rate of teenage pregnancy among basic and Senior high school students in the country.
A total of 109,888 adolescent girls were impregnated in 2020 in Ghana. Out of the number 2,865 were between 10 and 14 years while those with ages between 15 and 19 years were 107,023.
The Eastern Region recorded the second-highest numbers in teenage pregnancy.
The Eastern Regional Girls Education Officer at the Ghana Education Service Patricia Birago said reports from the various Senior High Schools on teenage pregnancy among students are not pleasant adding her voice for the country to amend the sexual consent age of 16.
“Government is saying that a person can go to bed with whoever he chooses at age 16 so if a girl doesn’t start KG early by 16 she is in school and legally free to have sex and at age 18 can even go ahead and marry. So we have realized that our girls are getting pregnant and they even go and marry and come back to school with their rings on which is of very bad taste because we know at the basic level a girl should not be pregnant and marry if for anything at all it should be tertiary but with this clause where lie the power of school authorities to question girls who come to school with their wedding and engagement rings ”
The New Juaben North Director of the National Commission for Civic Education, NCCE, Ebenezer Acheampong concurred with the need to review sexual consent age in the face of the worrying trend of teenage pregnancy and marriages.
Meanwhile, Plan International Ghana has commissioned a data collection project and scientific diagnosis of the teenage pregnancy menace in various schools in seven districts; Okere, Akuapem North, Upper Manya Krobo, Atiwa East and West, New Juaben North and South which have a high rate of teenage pregnancy in Eastern region.
The Eastern Regional Unit Manager of Plan International Ghana, Kofi Adade Debrah, said the project is to critically analyze the situation on the ground for a remedy to improve gains made in gender parity at Basic and Senior High school level to tertiary and push forward highest decision making bodies in government.