The Northern Regional Director of Education, Dr Peter Attafuah, has stated that pregnancy or childbirth should not be a barrier to girls education in the country.
According to him, girls who get pregnant and give birth should not be given out for marriage to those who impregnated them but should rather be encouraged to continue with their education till they complete it.
Dr Attafuah who also has oversight responsibility as the director of education for the Savannah and North East regions stated this at the Northern Regional Population Advisory Council (RPAC) meeting held in Tamale.
He commended non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working on girls empowerment in the northern part of the country for drumming home the need for girls to continue with their education after childbirth.
“Pregnancy or childbirth should not be a barrier to girls education in the country and girls must be encouraged to continue their education after childbirth and not be given out for marriage to those who impregnated them at the expense of their education", he stated.
Dr Attafuah used the number of pregnant girls and those who were nursing their babies who showed up at the various examination centres to write this year's Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in the three Northern regions to buttress his point.
Giving out the statistics, he said 788 girls out of the total of 19,301 who registered to write this year's BECE in the Northern, Savannah and North East regions could not write the examinations due to pregnancy, childbirth and some other unrelated issues.
He said 221 girls out of the 788 could not take part in the annual basic school certificate examination because they were pregnant. Those who were pregnant and came to write the exams were 133, while 97 others who had given birth came with their babies write the exams in the three northern regions.
That, he said, meant that education had gone down well in the regions that pregnancy or childbirth was not a barrier to education.
Impact of COVID-19 / Advice
Dr Attafuah attributed the high rate of absenteeism among girls in this year's BECE due to pregnancy to the lockdown period during the COVID-19 pandemic when the girls were at home as a result of the closure of schools, truancy on the part of the girls and neglect by some parents.
He, however, urged girls to take the advice of their parents and teachers on sex education seriously in order not to get pregnant while in school.
Issues on population
The Northern Regional Director of the National Population Council (NPC), Alhaji Issifu Seidu Iddi, said the biggest challenge on population issues in the region stemmed from high fertility rate to low contraceptive usage.
He stated that although there had been a slight decline in the fertility rate for the region from 6.0 per cent to 5.9 per cent, the region still led when it came to that issue in the country and that teenage pregnancy and early/forced marriages continued to be an issue in the region.
He indicated that wife beating was also still an issue in the region as majority of females than males held the view that wife beating was justified when a man's wife refused to have sex with him.
He, therefore, called for concerted efforts from all stakeholders to address the issues for the wellbeing and development of the people in the region.
The quarterly meetings of the RPAC has not been held for some time this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that placed restrictions on meetings.
The meeting was to address some population challenges during the lockdown period of the COVID-19 pandemic.