Oct 17, 2008, 4:28 AM
Over the years girls' education has been given a high level of priority at the highest level.
It has been boosted by initiatives, such as free education for girls, President's Empowerment for Girls' Education, just to name but a few.
However, despite all these incentives, girls' education in the country is still faced with a series of challenges.
The challenges facing girls' education include early marriages, teenage pregnancy, poverty, peer pressure, low adult literacy, among others.
As a result of these factors, it has become very difficult to retain the girl-student in school, especially in the rural areas.
Our stand here is that girls must be allowed to finish their education to the highest level, before marrying them off.
We encourage parents to desist from such practices as it's not in the interest of the girl child.
Female students must also be serious and do away with engaging with men until they complete their schooling.
The most common saying among the local people, especially at the provincial areas, is that girls' education is not important. This mentality must be changed, and people must understand that education is the key to development. We are also concerned with the report on the performance of girls in schools. It's disheartening to know that despite numerous opportunities available to them, the performance of girls in school is not the least impressive.
Something urgent must be done sooner rather than later. Quality must not be compromised in our education system.
The Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education had set up girls' education unit and introduced lots of initiatives towards addressing these challenges. Principal, among the initiatives, was the Sponsorship Trust Fund for Girls' which was launched in 1999, to support the enrolment, retention and performance of girls in Upper Basic and Senior Secondary Schools in the Upper and Central River Regions, and later extended to the North Bank and the Lower River Regions in 2003, as the country started benefiting from the highly indebted countries (HIPC) initiative.
According to the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Mr. Baboucarr Bouy, this initiative alongside the