Ama Korkor (fictitious name) is among the girls who unfortunately became pregnant and gave birth at the age of 15 when schools closed during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, one of many preventative measures in 2020 .
When school reopened in January 2022, she was only four weeks postpartum and therefore could not miss school, due to babysitting requirements.
After several encouragements from the school authorities, his mother decides to take care of the baby to allow him to return to school. Today, she is in high school benefiting from the school’s free admission policy.
Ama Korkor’s story represents that of the few girls who dropped out of school due to teenage pregnancy and childbirth, but who were blessed with the support and push to allow them to return to school.
Yaa Grace, in Manya Krobo District is another success story of the re-entry policy, she gave birth just after BECE in 2020 after a long Covid-19 break, she had always wanted to follow a professional training to become a caterer.
“I was living with my older sister and her husband when I gave birth, I was sent back to the village, my sister heard about the reintegration policy and asked my mother to take care of the child for me. allow me to continue my studies”
She is now enrolled in one of the technical and vocational training (TVET) schools under the free SHS and TVET policy as a freshman, “but for the reinstatement policy, I would have already been married because my father insisted that I should marry the man who impregnated once I was doing nothing”.
Adwoa Saa (fictitious name) is another mother of a six-year-old boy and a proud student of one of the teacher training colleges, who gave birth in 2016 when she was in the first year of secondary school and dropped out school. She had no hope of going back to school.
“I was devastated when I realized I was pregnant and had to drop out of school at the age of 16, I tried to kill myself twice and each time I remember I couldn’t go to college which was my cherished dream, it breaks my heart.”
When the reinstatement policy was introduced, her older sister offered to take care of Adwoa Saa’s child. So she enrolled in BECE in 2018, and now she is in a tertiary school. Little by little, she is getting closer to her dream which, without the reintegration policy and the support of the family, would have been different.
Had it not been for the reintegration policy implemented by the Ghana Education Service (GES) within the framework of the Covid-19 resilience strategy and family support, the dreams of these three young women to continue their studies and become empowered women in the future, would have been truncated by teenage pregnancies and they would have become victims of child marriages.
Despite the challenges of returning to school after pregnancy or childbirth, the reintegration policy is a light at the end of the tunnel for girls like these, before this policy it was difficult for these abandoned girls to return to school even when the will and the zeal were there due to several factors.
Education experts have described the policy as one of the best girl-friendly interventions to ensure they don’t fall through the cracks but have another chance to finish unfinished business.
“Even if a girl has gone back to school after giving birth, it’s a positive sign that should be highlighted for others to learn from. If you look at the teenage pregnancy numbers, the only way out is to provide such a window of opportunity,” noted Ms. Joyce Ackah, a retired educator.
These unfortunate girls returning to school may not equal the number of those who dropped out, ‘but it’s a positive response to action and a step in the right direction to reverse a potential threat to the curriculum empowerment of women,” she added.
These girls dropped out of school at an early age, and many parents and guardians refused to take care of their babies so they could return to class, even though the policy allows these children to go to school. school when they are pregnant, she needs the support of parents, guardians and relatives to allow these girls to benefit from politics.
The Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) indicated among other things that for the reintegration policy to be successful, there must be support systems for these teenage mothers and their guardians in the form of income generating activities to support the both mother and child. teenage mother goes back to school or sets up daycare.
Despite Ghana’s progress in Free and Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE), school dropouts remain a huge challenge, mainly due to teenage pregnancies and other socio-economic factors.
According to statistics from Africa Education Watch, an education-focused non-profit organization, over 192,000 school dropouts are in Ghana, of which over 102,000 are girls and up to 30% of this figure is attributed to teenage pregnancies.
A GES report also shows that 70% of pre-tertiary pregnancies occur at lower secondary or basic school level, with an average school pregnancy rate of 7,000 per year. It is estimated that of the 100,000 teenage pregnancies recorded each year in Ghana, 300 of these girls will return to school in 2021.
Again, over 555,000 teenage pregnancies were recorded between 2016 and 2021 and with the reinstatement policy, around 10,800 of these teenage mothers returned to school.
Madam Patricia Birago Gyamfi, Regional Coordinator for Girls’ Education in the East, described domestic support as a key intervention necessary for the success of the policy, noting that parents and guardians must make this sacrifice for a better future for their daughters.
“Many of these teenage mothers are ready to go back to school, having been sensitized and advised through the ‘Back to School’ campaign as part of the re-entry policy, but who to care for their babies, therefore, to care for and support their children and allowing them to return to school has become an obstacle and a huge challenge to the success of the campaign,” she noted.
She explained that it was difficult for these teenage girls to send their babies to school because the distraction and demands of caring for a baby plus the stigma and learning at the same time would be too much of a burden. burdensome for these students.
This, she said, calls for the involvement and full support of parents or guardians to ensure that girls’ education is not truncated at this basic level of education.
The reintegration policy appears to be making progress as many girls return to school after giving birth to enable them to take the Basic Education Certificate (BECE) exam, but many more have fallen through the cracks net because they could not get the necessities. family support.
“Many fear that the reintegration policy will foster promiscuity among school children, but from the indications, the reintegration policy can be described as a thoughtful solution to address some of the deficits in girls’ education and empowerment given the large number of girls who drop out of school due to pregnancy,” said Madame Gyamfi.
Although she does not condone pregnancy and other school dropout issues, she called on parents to help their children put the pieces together and get back to school by taking care of the babies and meeting their needs. so that they have a sound mind to study.