The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has concluded a two days “girls tell us forum” in Kabala in the Koinadugu District. Speaking at the opening ceremony the Education Specialist Dr. Sonia Spencer said that before this time, adults have been used to talk on behalf of the children but now they (children) are now going to talk about their way forward.
The education of the girl child she went on has gained a lot of support from the government, UNICEF and other agencies, but with all these facilities the girl child does not improve in the area of education she lamented.
The UNICEF Education Specialist explained further that the forum has decided that the children should explain to the adults – tell them their problems and the possible solutions to these problems.
“This forum will not stop here after we have made the recommendations there will be people monitoring the children to ensure that their plans are implemented” she said Adding that “this is a national programme and presently there are other teams in Kono and Pujehun doing this same programme.”
Dr Spencer explained that the program came out of an effort to find the reasons surrounding the lack of interest in school in these districts and exploring appropriate steps “which will increase enrollment, better retention, and high performance and completion rates of girls.”
It is anticipated that through this programme, the girls would say what their problems are and the possible suggestions on how to solve these problems.
Giving a report about cases brought to Social Welfare and the Family Support Unit (FSU) Alhaji Foday Sheriff explained that in 2003 a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) was signed for child physical and sexual assault for children under the ages of 1.
He reported that 39 cases of assault was reported, out of which 12 were investigated, 19 resolved and 3 charged to court.
Adding that 24 teenage pregnancy cases were also reported between January and June.
The cause of other cases like unlawful carnal knowledge, procurement, children that abscond from home 18 gender based violence were among other cases reported to them which they took actions on.
In her report, the Matron of the Kabala Government Hospital Isatu Kamara said that last year 204 cases of teenage pregnancy were reported at the hospital and out of this number, 150 fell within the range of 13-15 years and 75% are school going children ranging from classes 5 to SSS I.
Some of these children develop VVF and presently they have diagnosed HIV/AIDs, and there has been high prevalence of STI’s among some children in the District.
Giving statistics about the educational system in the district the Supervisor of schools Samuel Jalloh said that in 2004-2005 19,608 girls were registered from classes 1-6, stressing that in 2005-2006, 36,600 out of this number were in the lower class and out of these number 779 girls took the NPSE exams.
In 2005 the Supervisor went on, 236 girls entered JSS- I but there was an increment of 10 other girls from other schools, out of this number it was only 179 girls who sat to the BECE.
Explaining further Mr Jalloh said 79 girls entered SSS and in 2006-2007 55 girls sat to the WASSCE exams.
Giving factors responsible for some of their lack of interest and also some of the problems they are faced with during the cause of the schooling, the girls said they do not get encouragement from their parents and that they do not get guidance from their parents.
Teenage pregnancy they explained is also another cause for them to drop out of school, access to education, quality in education and sexual harassment are all factors they said are responsible for them to drop out of school.