About 2,765 girls in 10 districts across the Northern Region could not return to school when schools reopened after the COVID-19 outbreak.
This is as a result of a number of factors, including teenage pregnancy, child marriage and others using the break period to work as head porters (Kayayee).
Also, others learnt a trade/vocation during the locked down period and therefore did not go back to school.
Of the number, 518 were recorded at the lower primary level, 1,059 at the upper primary and 1,188 at the Junior High School (JHS).
The data was collected from the Tatale-Sanguli, Saboba, Kpandai, Zabzugu and Kumbungu districts.
The rest are Tamale Metro, Yendi, Gushegu , Nanumba North (Bimbilla) and Sagnarigu municipalities.
The highest number of the cases were recorded in Zabzugu with 503 cases, followed by Saboba with 446 cases with less number of cases from Kpandai, which recorded 125 cases, while Kumbungu (325), Yendi (284), Gushegu (274), Tatale-Sanguli (252), Tamale Metro (156) and Nanumba North (149) cases.
This came to light at a meeting to validate a survey undertaken by Songtaba, a women and girls rights advocacy organisation, in partnership with Vibrant Village Foundation (VVF), also a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Tamale last Thursday.
The study sought to investigate statistics of girls out of school due to COVID-19 by establishing specific situational factors keeping them from school in order to identify areas of policy gaps for advocacy.
The meeting brought together all the Girl Child Education Officers from the 16 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in the Northern Region, some civil society organisations (CSO), the Regional Girls Education Officer, the Regional Director for the Department of Children, a representative from the Regional Directorate of Education, among others.
A Senior Programmes Officer of Songtaba, Mr. Mohammed Amidu Alhassan, who presented the findings of the survey at the meeting, said the study was undertaken within the period of May to September 2021 and it was on the impact of COVID-19 on girls’ education.
He said the data was collected to get statistics and establish the situation on girls who failed to return to school after the COVID-19 break in order to support in the necessary planning to get them back to school.
The data, he said, would support his outfit and the Ghana Education Service (GES) to promote the re-entry of girls in the Northern Region.
Mr. Alhassan in the presentation recommended the mapping and profiling of affected girls to support their re-entry into school and called for collaborated efforts from CSOs and the government sector in that direction.
He also called for a vigorous sensitisation campaign in communities in collaboration with the Girls Education Officers of the GES, chiefs, religious leaders and other community-based organisations to get girls back to school.
He further recommended the institution of skills training programmes for girls who are unwilling to return to school and for girls who wished to opt for Technical, Vocational and Educational Training (TVET).
Mr. Alhassan also recommended the establishment of adolescent safe corners for girls with facilitators to support in their sensitisation to reproductive health in order to revert the worrying trend of the teenage pregnancy cases recorded in the region.
The Executive Director of Songtaba, Hajia Lamnatu Adam, called on all stakeholders to work to promote the rights of girls to education in the region.
Some of the participants at the forum called for effective counselling of girls in schools, sensitising of parents to their roles and responsibilities and getting female teachers to schools in rural areas to support girls empowerment, among others, to reverse the worrying trend of girls dropping out of school.
BY: Samuel Duodu