On 15th Sept 2009, 720,000 pupils enrolled in Kindergarten One (KG 1) in Ghana, to commence their basic education journey. Tomorrow, by the grace of God, this batch will be writing their BECE. Sadly, only 584,000 will be writing. Where are the remaining 136,000 pupils, constituting about 24%? Poverty and teenage pregnancy are the two leading causes of school dropouts in Ghana.
Increases in Economic Growth and Development Indicators have scarcely manifested in the socio-economic lives of the poor in our society, as close to 6.8 million (about 20%) Ghanaians continue to live on less than GHC 6/day. (GSS, 2017). As a country, we haven’t done enough to curb or cushion girls against the ramifications of teenage pregnancy. While the neglect by some families continue to predispose girls to the delinquencies in our society, our laws focus on punishing perpetrators of teenage pregnancy, without any restitution for victims through social welfare support.
In addition, the absence of public Early Childhood Educational facilities in communities, hamper efforts by pregnant girls to re-enter school to continue their education after childbirth. Presently, there are only 6,060 public crèches and nurseries, feeding over 15,000 public primary schools. Where crèches and nurseries are absent, teenage girls struggle to find caregivers to take care of their babies, thereby making it difficult to re-enroll to complete basic school.
The draft early Childhood Policy of the Ministry of Education has been discussed for far too long. It is time we expedite action and roll-out an aggressive plan to build crèches and nurseries in every pubic basic school; we need to focus on a shared economic prosperity agenda that improves the socio-economic lives of the poor. It is time to develop a social welfare system that supports girls who are defiled into pregnancy, in line with the Domestic Violence Law; and finally, it is time for families to take responsibility for the moral development of their children.
As we approach this year’s BECE, let us renew our resolve to ensure all children (especially girls) who enroll in basic school, complete the full course of basic education. Let us pride ourselves in the number of children who complete, rather than who enroll in school.
We wish all BECE candidates the very best of luck!