Unlike the many teenage mothers who do not return to school, Rita, an orphan has decided not to allow her current situation to stop her from achieving her educational goals.
According to a Facebook post by renowned photographer, Senyuiedzorm Awusi Adadevoh, Rita returned to school in February this year after giving birth to a son.
According to her narration, Rita’s son is enrolled at the KG department of her school and with an arrangement by the institution, goes to breastfeed her son during break times or when necessary.
“Very taken by the sight I asked her how she manages the child during school, and she tells me a most “amazing” thing, “Oh he goes to The KG side and i go to breastfeed or give him koko at break time”, an arrangement her school put in place for her. Her very enthusiastic poetic headmistress shouted to me ” Rita Is A Nursing Mother But Vying To Finish School,” the post said.
Young Rita is not only faced with the challenge of schooling amidst the circumstances she finds herself in but also sleeps at the Art Centre in Accra and sells pure water after school for the upkeep of herself and her baby.
“Rita whom together with her son her sleeps at the art centre, sells pure water after school for their upkeep. Rita could not hide her confusion of my fascination of her, to ease her up I said to her ” you see, not long ago I had to put my child at my back to work just like this, but I am 40 years old” that made her smile and started talking to me and gladly stood for the photos,”
“I asked Rita if someone helps her. What do you need, She said to me “Things to sell and a place to sleep” Sliver and Gold have I none for now, so I gave her ghc10 to buy more water to sell. Can you also please add a little? Contact me on 0544802504,” the narration further said.
According to reports, a total of 687 girls in the Upper West Region returned to school pregnant as of May 2021, when schools reopened after the government announced a shutdown in March 2020 due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
Statistics from the Eastern Regional Directorate of the Ghana Education Service, (GES) also indicate that a total of 691 teenage girls returned to school either pregnant or after given birth as at May this year.
The report, representing 27 Municipal and District assemblies, showed that whiles 477 girls went back to school pregnant, 214 had given birth.
The District Health Information Management System (DHIMS) of Ghana Health in May 2021 also revealed that about 6,533 teenage pregnancies were recorded in the Upper East Region.
According to statistics, teenage pregnancy cases among girls aged 10 to 14 in the region increased from 103 in 2019 to 142 in 2020, representing a 38 per cent increase.
Meanwhile, the DCE for the Bongo District in the Upper East Region, Peter Ayinbisa, has attributed the rise in teenage pregnancy in the area to the drinking water there.
According to him, the drinking sources in the district boost sexual drive in men and make women very fertile.
Despite admitting that he hasn’t found a scientific basis for this view, he insisted that some nurses have confirmed: “the wonders” the water does to men and women in the Bongo District.
Whereas government and NGOs among others continue to fight against teenage pregnancy among rural communities especially, as well as the enrollment of the girls into schools and vocational training centres, policy research and advocacy NGO, Africa Education Watch says its findings from research it conducted from 200 schools across the country reveal that the Free Senior High School system and the Coronavirus pandemic are contributory factors to the increase in the rate of teenage pregnancy in the country.
Kofi Asare, the Executive Director of Africa Education Watch, noted in an interview with Citi FM on September 10, 2020, that the current architecture of admissions under the free Senior High School system did not permit re-entry.
“The Free Senior High School programme gives students a unique ID number and that number is the basis for which the government pays your fees. That number is valid for only three years,” he explained.
He also said his NGO was engaging the Minister of Education and other stakeholders to come up with a more flexible admission into Senior High schools for girls who try to return to school after pregnancy.