‘Help adolescent girls stay away from early pregnancy’

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe
 Mrs Elizabeth A. De-Souza (right) holding discussions with Mrs Felicia Boakye-Yiadom (seated left), Regional Director of Education, and some participants after the ceremony. Picture: EDNA ADUSERWAA

The Deputy Director General of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Quality and Access, Mrs Elizabeth A. de-Souzu, has urged non-governmental organisations (NGOs) engaged in health education to provide accurate and reliable information that will help adolescent girls stay away from early pregnancy.

She said adolescent girls needed the right information on their reproductive health and sexuality, in order to make the right and informed choices that would make them abstain from early sexual activity to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

“It is the policy of the GES for teachers to provide young females with knowledge and skills to stay safe from early pregnancies. The policy frowns upon the use of contraceptives by the children in schools,” she said.

Mrs de-Souzu spoke to the Daily Graphic on the sideline of a programme organised by Innovation for Poverty Action (IPA),  a research and policy NGO, in Accra, on Wednesday.

The event

The programme was meant to present the findings of a research conducted by the NGO on the possibility of using mobile phone technology to provide young females with information on adolescent reproductive health (ARH) and safe contraceptive use.

The participants were drawn from the GES, the Ghana Health Service, health-related NGOs and civil society groups. 

The research

The research, which had a sample size of 756, was carried out for students in 34 randomly selected senior high schools (SHS) in the Greater Accra Region, between January 2014 and June 2015. 

It was based on three thematic areas, including the one-way session, where the girls were sent text messages about ARH once a week; the interactive session, where the girls were sent messages with quiz questions once a week for airtime reward for correct answers; and the comparison session, where girls were sent messages about malaria once a week.

Presenting the findings, Miss Slawa Rokicki, a principal investigator at Havard University, said the feedback showed that the interactive session was the most patronised.

“After three months, girls in the three areas were surveyed to measure their knowledge about ARH, sexually transmitted infections and contraceptives. Girls in the interactive group scored an average of 57 per cent while those in the one-way group had 44 per cent. Those in the comparison group had only 33 per cent. Fifteen months later, the groups scored 54, 45, and 42 respectively,” the research stated.

Knowledge about ARH

She said it could be concluded that a mobile phone programme had a number of advantages over other commonly used programmes for improving knowledge about ARH.

Mrs Slawa observed that it was important for policy makers to consider incorporating the initiative into sex education to increase ARH knowledge to prevent unwanted pregnancies among adolescent girls.

The Greater Accra Regional Director of the GES, Mrs Felicia Boakye-Yiadom, observed that there was the need for parents and other stakeholders to collaborate to provide more information for young girls to enable them to go through their school age successfully.