The Ministry of Education, science and Technology is under serious pressure from parents and international partners to provide an alternative arrangement for girls who were prevent- ed from returning to school as a result of their pregnancy.
The government of Sierra Leone issued a policy statement some two months ago barring visibly pregnant girls from attending class or even writ- ing external examinations, a decision that drew criticism from girls’ rights groups.
Public Relations Officer at the Min- istry of Education, Ibrahim Turay, said the decision was in the line with the education policy of the government of sierra leone that pregnant girls should not be allowed in schools.
He said there have been a lot of campaigns by various organizations on teen- age pregnancy and the Ebola rules made it very clear that people should not touch one another.
“The President has said that school children should carry books and not babies,” reechoed Mr. Turay. “The West Africa Examination Council in Sierra Leone has long reported to the ministry about the poor performance of these teenage girls in public examinations, which is the reason the ministry has taken this dramatic step this time. But definitely the ministry is considering an alternative arrangement for these girls.”
However, United States-based group Brac and others continue to advocate for the right of all girls to attend school, or an alternative be found to accommo- date girls who dropped out of school for whatever reason to continue their education.
Other global activists have also joined the call to pressure the government to rethink her decision. “The ruling in Sierra Leone concerns us,” says Philippa Lei, advocacy director of the Malala Fund, the organization co-founded by 2014 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Malala Yousafzai.
Also, Director of Amnesty Interna- tional in Sierra Leone, Solomon Sog- bandi, is reported to have spoken out against the decision.
it is a human rights issue. when you look at the Education Act of 2004.
it makes it clear; it says on no account should any child be discriminated against. This is a serious provision we want government to look at,” said Sog bandi.
In Sierra Leone, teenage pregnancy is one of the most pervasive problems af- fecting the health, social, economic and political progress and empowerment of women and girls.