According to the Ghana Health Service (GHS, 2012) 75,000 teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 got pregnant in 2011. Nanahemaa Awindor stressed that, the prevalence of teenage pregnancy is disturbing and wonders why teenage girls are made to drop out of school whilst their partners are left to continue with their education.
Teenage pregnancy is caused by factors including family breakdown, poverty and peer pressure and often teenage mothers are neglected by their partners, family and society for getting pregnant at an early age and or outside wedlock.
The Executive Director of the Obaapa Development Foundation stated that, girls dropping out of school affects the empowerment of women when it comes to formal education. She stressed that, education of females has additional significance to the development of nations. She intimated that when the male partners are also made to stay at home just as the teenage mothers, it will serve as a deterrent to the male folk who indulge the teenagers girls in early sex.
Nanahemaa Adjoa Awindor tasked family members and the community to give the necessary support, guidance and counseling to teenagers who find themselves in such a situation. She was speaking at the Community Entry Durbar of the 1000 Teenage Mothers Back To School Project (TMBTSP) held in Agogo.
The durbar brought together stakeholders and partners including the Agogo Hemaa, Nana Afrakomaah Serwah Kusi Aboadum, the Ghana Education Service, The District Assebly, Clergy, Obaapa Development Foundation, World Vision International, CAMFED and the Swiss Embassy to find a fitting strategy for the implementation of the project (TMBTSP).
The 1000 Teenage Mothers Back To School Project is an initiative of the Girl-Education Unit of the Atwima Kwanwoma District Education Office which has been adopted and expanded into a national project by the Obaapa Development Foundation.
The scheme seeks to empower teenage mother school drop outs to continue and complete their Basic education.
Speaking at the Durbar, Mr. Edward Adams the District Director of Education in charge of Asante Akyem North revealed that teenage pregnancy was one of the main factors hampering girl child education in the district. He therefore lauded the initiative of Obaapa Development Foundation for their focus on this all-important issue. The District Director of Education also indicated that pupils in the area drop out of school due to eye sight and hearing problems and went on to appeal for medical intervention and a special educational establishment for such pupils.
The Chairperson for the event was the Agogo Manhemaa, Nana Afrakomaah Serwah Kusi Aboadum. In her remarks, she admonished teenagers to stay away from early sex and engage in healthy habits. The Queenmother encouraged teenage mothers to take up the opportunity and enroll on the 1000 Teenage Mother Back to School Project insisting that early pregnancy does not mean an end to future aspirations.
20 teenage mothers from each district (5 districts per region of 10 in Ghana), will benefit from The 1000 Teenage Mothers Back To School Project, with an enrollment plan covering the next 5 years.
The Swiss Ambassador to Ghana, H.E. Gerhard Brugger, was the Special guest of the event. He proposed that Obaapa Development Foundation expand its operations to cater for the education of more teenage mothers beyond the targeted 1,000 mothers. He indicated that although Switzerland lacks natural resources, it has become one of the most successful nations because it invested heavily in education. He urged girls to strive at completing their education despite the odds.