Increase Text Size Decrease Text Size Default Text Size
 
OOPS. Your Flash player is missing or outdated.Click here to update your player so you can see this content.
Featured Links:
Banner
ExpoNet
EXpoNet Services!
Banner
Subscribe Now
Subscribe Now.
Africa: Make Girls’ Access to Education a Reality: End Exclusion From School for Married, Pregnant Students PDF  | Print |  E-mail
News
Written by press release   
Friday, 16 June 2017 15:12

 

 

 

(Dakar, June 16, 2017) – Millions of pregnant and married adolescent girls across many African countries are being denied their education because of discriminatory policies and practices, Human Rights Watch said today, on the Day of the African Child. More than 49 million girls are out of primary and secondary school in sub-Saharan Africa, with 31 million of them out of secondary education, undermining their rights and limiting their opportunities.

Early marriage and teenage pregnancy are significant factors. In sub-Saharan Africa, 40 percent of girls marry before age 18, and African countries account for 15 of the 20 countries with the highest rates of child marriage globally. The region also has the world’s highest prevalence of adolescent pregnancies. In 14 sub-Saharan countries, between 30 and 51 percent of girls give birth before they are 18. Cultural or religious beliefs often stigmatize unmarried, pregnant girls, with the result that many pregnant girls are forced into early marriages.



“The African continent has one of the world’s highest rates of adolescent pregnancy, but many governments insist on tackling this social and public health challenge by punishing girls and jeopardizing their future,” said Elin Martínez, children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Governments should focus on helping girls prevent unintended pregnancies and support their efforts to stay in school.”

Although most sub-Saharan African countries have made commitments to guarantee compulsory primary and lower-secondary education for all children, many exclude or expel pregnant girls and young mothers from school.

Tanzania and Sierra Leone are among the sub-Saharan African countries that have harmful policies and practices that discriminate against pregnant and married girls, Human Rights Watch research shows. In Tanzania, Human Rights Watch found that school officials conduct pregnancy tests and expel pregnant students. Nineteen-year-old Rita, from northern Tanzania, said she was expelled when she became pregnant at age 17. “Teachers found out I was pregnant,” she said. “I found out that no student is allowed to stay in school if they are pregnant … I didn’t have the information [sexual education] about pregnancies and what would happen.”

Some countries, including Cameroon, South Africa, and Zambia, have adopted “re-entry” policies so that adolescent mothers can return to school after giving birth. However, even if governments have these policies, school officials often fail to carry them out adequately or at all. Young mothers frequently lack support to re-enroll due to school fees and related costs, limited support from their families, stigma in school, and a lack of affordable childcare and related early childhood services.  

Many adolescent girls become pregnant because they lack the information needed to make informed decisions about their sexuality, family planning, and their reproductive health, while others are coerced into sex and require protection and access to health services and support. According to the United Nations, 80 percent of women ages 15 to 24 who have HIV globally live in sub-Saharan Africa and across the continent, and girls aged 15 to 19 are five times more likely to be infected with HIV than boys.

Sexuality and reproduction are often not included in the national school curricula. In a handful of countries where they are included in HIV awareness or “life skills” programs or subjects, teachers are frequently unwilling to teach these subjects because of the sexual and reproductive health content, or due to constraints on teaching time and resources.

All African governments have made a commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals to guarantee gender equality and universal access to free primary and secondary education for all children by 2030. The African Union has recognized the importance of ending child marriage, understanding that it is a major impediment to regional development and prosperity, and of eliminating all forms of gender-based violence and discrimination.

African governments should guarantee that girls have equal access to free quality primary and secondary education and support to stay in school, Human Rights Watch said. Governments should reverse harmful policies and practices that stigmatize girls, including forced pregnancy testing and regulations that allow for the expulsion of pregnant or married girls. Governments should also adopt laws that clearly set 18 as the minimum marriage age for boys and girls.

They should also adopt clear guidelines that instruct schools to re-enroll young mothers, provide support services in schools, and ensure that young mothers have access to early childhood services. Governments should also ensure that all children have access to age-appropriate, comprehensive sexuality, and reproductive education. Where possible, school-based services should be connected to youth-friendly health services to ensure that adolescents receive impartial, nonjudgmental information.

“Governments have the prime responsibility to ensure that girls access free primary and secondary education, without facing stigma and discrimination,” said Martínez. “All governments should scrap policies that exclude pregnant or married girls, and put in place special measures to ensure that all adolescent girls can go to school.”

For quotes from Human Rights Watch research on the subject, please see below.

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on children’s rights, please visit:

http://www.hrw.org/topic/childrens-rights

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on education, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/topic/childrens-rights/education

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on child marriage, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/topic/womens-rights/child-marriage

For more information, please contact:
In Dakar, Elin Martínez (English, French, Spanish): +221-766367420 (mobile); or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Twitter: @Martinez_Elin
In Nairobi, Agnes Odhiambo: (English, Kiswahili): +254-729-67-11-87 (mobile); or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Twitter: @Agnesodhiambo
In New York, Daniel Bekele (English, Amharic): +1-212-216-1223; or +1-917-385-3878 (mobile); or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Twitter: @DanielBekele
In New York, Liesl Gerntholtz (English): +1-917-326-9551 (mobile); or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Twitter: @LieslHRW

In Girls’ Own Words

Malawi

In Malawi, roughly half of all girls marry before age 18. Between 2010 and 2013, 27,612 girls in primary and 4,053 girls in secondary schools dropped out due to marriage. During the same period, another 14,051 primary school girls and 5,597 secondary school girls dropped out because they were pregnant.

Girls told Human Rights Watch that marriage interrupted or ended their education, and with it their dreams to be doctors, teachers, or lawyers. Many said that they could not return to school after marriage because of lack of money to pay school fees, childcare, flexible school programs or adult classes, and the need to do household chores. Others said that their husbands or in-laws would not allow them to stay in school.

Kabwila N., 17, said she left school in standard eight at age 15 because of poverty. She said she could not go back to school because she felt ashamed about her pregnancy: “I would not want to go back to school because I started having sex with my boyfriend while at school. I am not fit to go back.”

South Sudan
In South Sudan, 52 percent of girls marry before their 18th birthday. According to UNESCO, over 1.3 million primary-school-age children are out of school, and the country has the world’s lowest secondary school enrollment rate, at four percent.

Mary K., of Yambio County, said: “My father refused me to go to school. He said it is a waste of money to educate a girl. He said marriage will bring me respect in the community. Now I have grown up and I know that this is not true. I cannot get work to support my children and I see girls who have some education can get jobs.”

Anyier D., 18, said that her uncles forced her to leave school at 14 in 2008 to marry an old man she did not know: “I would wish to return to school even if I have children. People think that I am happy but I am not because I don’t have an education. I don’t have something of my own and I am only cleaning offices. If I had gone to secondary school, I would get a good job.”

Tanzania
In Tanzania, fewer than a third of girls who complete primary schooling complete lower-secondary school, and over 15,000 girls drop out annually due to pregnancy. Human Rights Watch found that in some cases adolescent girls dropped out of lower-secondary school due to sexual exploitation and violence by teachers.

Joyce, 17, from Shinyanga, said: “There are teachers who engage in sexual affairs with students – I know many [girls] it has happened to ... If a student refuses, she is punished ... I feel bad … even if you report the matter it won’t be taken seriously. It makes us feel unsafe. Three girls dropped out because of teachers and sex in 2015.” 

 

 

 



If you would rather not receive future communications from Human Rights Watch, let us know by clicking here.
Human Rights Watch, 350 5th Ave, New York, NY 10118-0110 United States
 
   
 
 Previous Next

 

Editorial

Press Release : IPRA 2016 Conference Successfully Concludes

The International Peace Research Association (IPRA) successfully held its 26th General Conference on ‘Agenda for Peace and Development ‘in Freetown, Sierra Leone from November 27 to 1st December 2016.  

Read more...

Business News

ACC CAPACITATES SIERRA LEONE COMMERCIAL BANK STAFF ON ANTI-BRIBERY AND ANTI-CORRUPTION ISSUES

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on the request of the Management of the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB) on Thursday 20th July, 2017 commenced anti- bribery and anti-corruption training with staff of the Bank.

The training which was held in the Bank's Conference Room 9th Floor, Christian Smith Building 29/31 Siaka Stevens Street, Freetown attracted over twenty members of the Executive Management.

Addressing colleagues, the Managing Director, SLCB, Idrissa Aloma Kamara disclosed that the Bank has integrated into the Bank's operations anti-corruption measures, such as the development of anti-corruption policy, anti-graft messages inscribed on Bank Statements and sensitization of staff on the dangers of corruption. With all these, the MD stated, it is the view of the Bank that the ACC which is the statutory body responsible for the campaign against corruption be brought in, to provide awareness training on anti-bribery issues for an efficient and effective banking system.

Read more...

Media News

Freedom of Expression Violations Rise Sharply in West Africa

The incidents of freedom of expression rights violations in West Africa more than tripled in the first quarter (January-March) of 2017.

Over the three-month period, a total of 47 violations were recorded as against 14 violations for the last quarter (October-December) of 2016. The violations recorded in the quarter under review range from arrests and detentions to physical attacks, online violations, shutdown of media houses, censorship, seizure and destruction of property and killings. The 47 violations occurred in 10 out of the 16 countries in West Africa.

These findings are contained in the latest edition of the West Africa Freedom of Expression Monitor, a quarterly report by the MFWA which analyses and highlights freedom of expression developments in the sub-region.

Read more...

Commentary

A PASSIONATE LETTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT:  44TH EDITION

REVIEWING THE JUNE 2017 ECOWAS SUMMIT
 Your Excellency Sir,
 It’s been six months since I subscribed to my usual publications of this piece. And this is primarily because I have been out of the country for the entire period, and as such would not normally objectively tender a subscription. I do apologize to my readers for this. So having being in Monrovia, Liberia for the recently concluded ECOWAS Summit, I would like to do some analysis on such a historic august body and gathering of this sub-Saharan/West African region.
 
In resume, among other crucial achievements, ECOWAS, through its military apparatus, ECOMOG, played very sacrificial and invaluable roles in bringing peace, security and democratic governance to both Sierra Leone and Liberia during their past civil wars, and most recently ensuring that the Gambian people’s democratic change of government from the notorious dictatorial twenty seven years regime of Yaya Jarmeh, to the current government of President Adama Barrow, through their tactical robust intervention, overseen by President Helen JohnsonSirleaf of Liberia and other ECOWAS Presidents/actors, was enforced. Furthermore, ECOWAS has also spearheaded the enactment of several socio-political, advocacy and economic treaties in the sub region.
Read more...

View Point

WHY SIERRA LEONEANS HATE PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT

Honestly speaking Sierra Leoneans are well known for their hospitality all over the world, especially in Africa. But ironically many of them hate each other. But they love foreigners. They have high respect for strangers. But unfortunately they do not have respect among themselves. You can attest this to what is happening in the social media. Where they are showing their pull him down (PhD) syndrome. By castigating their compatriots unnecessarily. Some of them just because of jealousy and envious evil spirit they possess. They prefer to promote foreigners than their own brothers and sisters both in and out of the country.

Day in day out they are insulting each other.They are using all sorts of vulgar languages against each other. And even their own highly respected president in the world, President Ernest Bai Koroma they are insulting him openly. Therefore, it is an open secret that many Sierra Leoneans are not well cultured.

Read more...

News - Press Release

Regent village head calls on LAB to tackle domestic violence

The village head for Regent, Ms. Jokomie Browne has called on the Legal Aid Board to help curb the increase in incidence of domestic violence in the Regent Community in the outskirts of the capital Freetown.

Ms. Browne wants the Board to hold outreach events in the village to educate the people on issues of law relating to domestic violence, gender, women’s rights, redress mechanisms and support services for victims.

‘We want to benefit from the Legal Aid Board’s Legal Empowerment Programme because there is an urgent need for one in the community,’ Ms. Browne told the Executive Director of the Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles on the phone. ‘The situation is desperate. I am afraid if you do not come in now the situation could spiral out of control.’

The call follows series of referral of victims of domestic violence to the Legal Aid Board office in Freetown. The latest victim sent to the Board is one Baindu who was battered by her boyfriend Borbor Abu in the presence of their one year old son.

Read more...

Society -Local News

250 LAB trains staff on Alternative Dispute Resolution

A hundred and twenty-five staff and volunteers of the Sierra Leone Legal Aid Board including lawyers and paralegals have benefited from a four-day training on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) at the Stadium Hostels in Freetown from the 24 to the 27 July 2017.

Other beneficiaries include the WAN POT Comedians, members of the National Youth Coalition and six senior officers of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF). The latter includes the highest ranking female military officer, Brigadier Kestoria Kabia and the Director of Gender and Equal Opportunities at the Ministry of Defence Col. Tucker.

The training is aimed at equipping staff and partners with the requisite skills and techniques required for effective and efficient ADR. Moreover, the trainees should be able to use ADR as an alternative to litigation and using effective skill of arbitration, mediation, negotiation and active listening. 

Read more...

Development

30 Staff of the Ministry of Finance & Economic Development will go China for Seminar on Economic Planning

Thirty (30) staff of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development will depart the shore of Freetown to China on 14th August 2017. The purpose of their trip is to attend a seminar on Medium and Long-Term Economic planning for Sierra Leone. The National Development and Reform Commission of China will organize the seminar from 16th August to 7th September 2017 in the capital city of Beijing, People’s Republic of China.

The Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Freetown, Mr. Shen Xiaokai met with the 30 participants at the Conference Room of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MOFED) on 2rd August 2017. In his remarks he told the participants that in December 2016, His Excellency the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Momodu Kargbo visited China, where they had high level bilateral meetings with Chinese Government Officials. 

He said this seminar is as a result of those meetings. “When China makes a commitment, China will fulfil it” he reiterated. He said The Ministry of Finance is one of the most important ministries in this country, therefore this seminar was designed specifically to meet the needs of the ministry.

Read more...

Politics

News from China, June 28th: Youth Affairs Minister addresses 2017 Ministerial Workshop on International Cooperation in Capacity Development in Beijing, China
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Youth Affairs has said, the 2017 Ministerial Workshop on International Cooperation in Capacity Development hosted by the Chinese government should help enhance the ties of friendship and foster the wheels of bilateral cooperation between the two nations and particularly strengthen cooperation in the field of human resource development.
 
Hon. Bai Mamoud Bangura spoke on Wednesday, 28th June, 2017, at the start of the week long Ministerial Workshop on International Cooperation, which has brought together participants from various countries, including eight (8) from Sierra Leone.
 
According to minister Bangura, in line with the spirit of friendship and cooperation, the event could serve as an opportunity to jointly define new strategic directions in Sierra Leone’s ties with China and in opening up another episode of friendship and cooperation between the two.
Read more...
Copyright © 2017 expotimesonline. All rights reserved.