THE First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has launched a pilot project for nine coastal communities in the Greater Accra Region aimed at getting young girls who drop out of school back to school or into informal education.
Dubbed: “Because I want to be”, the project is to be implemented at James Town, Bukom, Chorkor, Teshie and La in Accra; Bortianor in the Ga West municipality, Doryumu and Adakope in the Shai-Osudoku District and Akplabanya in the Dangme West District.
Under the project, which is being undertaken by the Rebecca Foundation, in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), girls who have dropped out of school or are at risk of dropping out will be identified and supported to ensure that they stay in school, while those who cannot continue through formal education will be taught income-generation skills.
The launch, which took the form of ‘a community entry durbar’ at James Town yesterday, was attended by chiefs, queenmothers, opinion leaders, parents and teenage mothers.
Mrs Akufo-Addo explained that the project became necessary following a survey that was done in the beneficiary communities to know why teenage girls were dropping out of school to help guide programme planning and improvement of girls’ education in the region.
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She said it would help ensure that girls from the coastal areas become economically stable.
She said it was only when girls were able to fend for themselves that they would become self-reliant and be able to negotiate for better treatment in their relationships.
The First Lady further explained that the project would utilise community platforms to improve the reproductive and economic well-being of adolescent girls through education.
Key findings of the survey identified poverty, teenage pregnancy, lack of toilet facilities in schools and some cultural practices, such as ‘outdooring’ of babies, as motivating girls to rather give birth instead of concentrating on school.
It identified the constraints which did not help adolescent girls to go back to school to include no clear plan for their re-admission into school on dropping out or after childbirth, there being no centres for alternative livelihood training for school drop-outs and teenage mothers who did not desire to go back to school, among others.
Dr Robert K. Mensah, a reproductive health specialist with the UNFPA, in an address, said the project would use role models to inspire girls in schools to aim higher, so that they would not drop out of school.
He said it would also increase advocacy and education at the community level to rally community support for the re-entry of girls into school.
Dr Mensah said if successful, the project would be piloted in other regions to benefit more girls across the country.
The Accra Metro Director of Education, Mrs Margaret Frimpong Kore, called on parents to be very concerned about the education of their children, especially the girl-child, to help reduce the drop out rate among females
The chiefs and queenmothers present pledged their support to ensure that the project became beneficial to the girl-child and the coastal community as a whole.