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ECOWAS experts meet on education of girls, other vulnerable children

Apr 17, 2013, 9:05 AM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

A four sub-regional meeting of experts on education of girls and other vulnerable children opened yesterday at the Sunswing Hotel in Kololi.

The programme, which brought together participants from ECOWAS member states, is part of ECOWAS Education Sector’s efforts to promote universal access to quality education and training opportunities, as well as harmonize admission criteria into educational and training institutes in member states.

The ECOWAS Girls’ Education Programme is designed to strengthen the operational capacities of national structures for the promotion of girls’ education by improving access, retention and completion.

The forum will, among others, look into ways and means of enhancing the inclusion of children, who account for more than half of the population of school-age children in formal education, for the timely realization of EFA and MDG goals.

The third of its kind, the meeting will also document member countries’ report on policies, programmes, initiatives and activities for education of the girl-child and other vulnerable children.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Abdoulaye Maga, director, department of education, culture, science and technology at the ECOWAS Commission,said the process of educating the girl-child, which ECOWAS is vigorously pursuing, will not yield the expected results in an environment where girls continue to be at a disadvantage in one form or the other.

‘It is the realization of this factor that informed the decision of the Authority of ECOWAS heads of state to continue to support key activities/programmes that would further advance the education of the girls in the region to assist in devising best practices towards combating any form of discrimination against the effective education of the girls in the region,’ he stated.

According to Maga, it is an obvious fact that if the channels of hindering the processes of educating girls are not properly checked/monitored, the tendency of girls not to be properly educated and marginalized will be definitely not be overcomed.

‘Therefore, all stakeholders, especially policy makers should endeavour to enhance the strategic regional approach in its capacity to serve as the common platform on which the ECOWAS programmes on educating girls are fully and effectively implemented,’ he added.

He noted that although most ECOWAS member states have made considerable progress in reducing the gender gap in school enrolment, significant gender gaps remain.

Declaring the forum open on behalf of the Minister of Basic and Secondary Education, Mrs Amie Colley-Mbye, director of science and technology at the ministry, underscored the importance of the forum, noting that for many of them, education has caused daunting challenges over the years, to which we need to devote much time, energy and resources.

‘We are now convinced beyond every shadow of doubt that no matter their complexities, these are challenges that are surmountable, for through partnership, we have made significant achievements together,’ she stated.

However, she went on, this does not negate the fact that some of the challenges continue to surface and weaken the gains registered thus far.

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