Review policy on pregnant students

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

Oone of Ghana’s illustrious sons, Dr Kwegyir Aggrey, said at one time: “When you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.”

Successive governments have been making feverish efforts not to leave out women in the development of the country’s educational system.

Not too long ago, the government introduced special programmes, particularly in Science and Mathematics, to give special skills to female students considered to be in disadvantageous positions because of our traditions, customs and practices.

Beyond the efforts by the government to promote girl-child education, other agencies, especially tertiary institutions, have introduced special schemes to address the peculiar needs of female students.

Admission conditions for some universities have been relaxed for certain courses for female students in many of our universities and other tertiary institutions.

In terms of numbers, many more girls are going to school in recent times, except that not all of them are able to stay to the highest rung of the educational ladder.

In spite of the gains made so far in trying to get more female students to read Mathematics and Science, as well as encourage many more of them to go to school and remain there till they reach the highest level, society is still not doing enough to motivate the girls to pursue academic excellence.

Although many female role models abound in the fields of Science, technology, politics, Mathematics and public service, some parents still give preference in education to the boy-child.

Some parents still hold on to the old mindset that the girl-child’s place is the kitchen or the market to sell some wares to make extra income to pay for the education of the boy-child.

Even at the official level, it is taking some officials too long to accept that what the boy-child can do, the girl-child can do better.

There are still some outmoded and primitive policies that retard the progress of the girl-child, even in some tertiary institutions.

For instance, the Ghana Education Service (GES) code of discipline for teacher trainees says: “A female student who becomes pregnant would be made to withdraw for a minimum period one year, to reapply for readmission.”

This particular policy does not make the GES a very progressive institution in an age when even the labour laws have been made so flexible that pregnancy is no longer a barrier to employment.

The Daily Graphic thinks that the code of discipline for teacher trainees and any other such policy that throw out those who get pregnant during school period must be reviewed and made more progressive to take into account the needs of our times.

We know that at the basic level some head teachers have never tolerated pupils who get pregnant and such pupils are shown the exit the moment the pregnancy is detected.

We believe the policy was introduced for good reason to ensure some level of discipline among students, especially the girl-child, but our position is that such policies should not be implemented to jeopardise the future of our youth.

The Daily Graphic calls on the Minister of Education to take a second look at the regulation and codes with the view to making them relevant to the needs and aspirations of the educational sector, so that adults will not just be suspended from school on account of pregnancy.