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Sierra Leone News: ‘Pregnant girls will not be allowed in school’- Education Minister

pregnatThe Minister of Education, Dr. Minkailu Bah has said girls whose pregnancies are visible will not be allowed in schools and to take the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).
Dr. Bah was reacting to question posed to him at yesterday’s press conference to brief the press about the progress made so far for the re-opening of schools in early April.
He said even before the Ebola outbreak the Ministry in 2010 received a letter from the West African Certificate Examination (WAEC) raising concern over the behaviors of pregnant girls in examination centers and their performances after the examination.
The Minister stated that the letter explained the difficulties they are facing in invigilating pregnant girls during examination, adding that some will fall ill at the centre and will be rushed to hospital.
Dr. Bah maintained that in that letter it was disclosed to them that 141 (45 from the South, 42 from the North and 54 from the Eastern regions) pregnant girls who took the June-July BECE were pregnant and performed badly in the exams.
He added that as a Ministry “We cannot take decision that will derail the education sector,” adding that in response to that, the Ministry wrote a Cabinet Paper on that and it was concluded by the Cabinet that pregnant girls will not be allowed in schools.
The Minister noted that the Ministry has made available resources for pregnant girls who want to attend Technical Vocational Institute to carry on with their education.
He said school has opened for BECE candidates to prepare them take the exams and after which they will take the exams in 10 days and a conference marking will be organized for one week. Dr. Bah said successful candidates who passed the examination will be promoted to the Senior Secondary School level.
He said children in quarantine homes will not attend schools and schools in quarantine areas will be closed.
The Minister furthered that, all the schools including private schools will be given thermometers, thermal cameras for scanning and veronica buckets to continue with hand washing.
On the school feeding program, he said the Ministry intends to feed 800,000 children, World Food Programme will feed 267,000 in their areas of operation and Christian Relief Services will feed 29,000 children for children in all public and community schools.
He assured that the Ministry will continue with radio teaching programme but will be structured to suit the time of the pupils.
The Director of Inspectorate and Head of the Ebola Task Force at the Ministry, Mohamed Sillah, said that all of the schools that should be decontaminated have been done including those schools in the Western Area who were used as holding and treatment centers in readiness for the re-opening of schools
He added that they have trained about 9000 teachers from 9000 schools on psychosocial skills.
Mr. Sesay stated that, before now most of the schools don’t have proper sanitation facilities, adding that the Ministry will create more WASH facilities in schools were these are lacking and that more schools will be built to avoid decongestion.
He urged parents and guardians to send their children to school as it is safer for the children to be in school. “We know a good number of girls are pregnant and the only way to stop this is to re-open schools,” he said.
By Abibatu Kamara
Wednesday March 25, 2015

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