John Baimba Sesay: 31 March 2020:
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) commends the decision of Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education to lift the ban on pregnant girls attending school.
“As co-chair of the Sexual Reproductive Health Taskforce, established in December 2019, I personally applaud the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education for taking on board the recommendations of the taskforce to allow girls to continue attending school during pregnancy,” said Dr. Kim Eva Dickson, UNFPA Country Representative.
Lifting this ban fulfils the right of individual girls. It is in line with efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and will contribute to socio-economic development of the whole nation. It is worthy to note that such a move by government contributes to fulfilling UNFPA’s mission of a world where every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
According to the 2019 Demographic Health Survey, 21 per cent of girls in Sierra Leone are pregnant or have given birth before the age of 19. Until today, many of these girls were forced to drop-out of school and as such were unable to fulfil their full potential.
With this decision, pregnant girls can now continue with their education without fear of exclusion. They can be encouraged to access timely antenatal care and be supported in safe delivery. Following the birth of their child, young mothers can return to school to complete their education.
UNFPA will continue to work with the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education through the Sexual Reproductive Health Taskforce to develop the ‘Radical Inclusion’ and ‘Comprehensive Safety’ policies in Sierra Leone.
Furthermore, “UNFPA will continue to work with the Government of Sierra Leone as we strive towards zero unmet need for family planning, zero preventable maternal deaths and zero gender-based violence,” said Dr. Kim Eva Dickson.
UNFPA is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, working in more than 150 countries and territories that are home to the vast majority of the world’s people. Our mission is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
About the author
John Baimba Sesay is the Web and Media Analyst of UNFPA Sierra Leone.