-World Bank Senior Country Economist
October 23, 2019
By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Senior Country Economist at World Bank Sierra Leone, Kemoh Mansaray has stated that they are of the opinion that all women in the country should have access to education irrespective of their being pregnant.
“All women and girls should have access to education whether they are pregnant or not. Even when they are pregnant they should be empowered to enable them to re-enter the education system after they give birth to their children,” he said.
He was responding to questions on Thursday, October 17th posed by journalists at their Freetown Office during the commemoration of the World Bank End Poverty Day on the theme ‘Ending Learning Poverty in Africa’.
He said World Bank is partnering with the Government of Sierra Leone to improve the education system in the country and also make input in the National Development Plan.
He said the issue of pregnant girls to be accepted in schools has been something they have been raising with the government, noting that the Bank’s senior management has been working closely with the government to push that agenda.
He said last month they launched the African Pulse report in which they prioritised women and girl child empowerment, adding that one of the ways to escape poverty trap is to empower women and girls, and that Sierra Leone is measured as one of those countries that should take the lead.
He said what they have been able to approach the government with was how to provide support to pregnant girls who have delivered to return to school, but that that the challenges of those women was how to stay in school because most of them will fall-off the brick, once they gave birth to children.
He added that both the Bank and the government were thinking of providing additional facilities for pregnant girls so that they can access free maternal health facilities, and that they can also support them with some cash transfers that would enable their return to school.
He welcomed the Free Quality Education system in the country, but noted that there were concerns about its implementation.
“The issue is not about enrolment, but what studies have shown in Sierra Leone is that female child normally fall off either through pregnancy, early marriage or other issues,” he said.
He said to overcome some of those problems has been a challenge, adding that they were happy that the government had strengthened the Sexual Offences Act and that they were also trying to entice traditional authorities to ensure that girls stay in school.
He said the Bank is supporting the government to ensure the implementation of the free education by making learning materials available to children in schools, and scale up learning especially for girls to ensure that they are able to stay in school and complete school.
He said for the campaign so far they have begun to see light at the end of tunnel as the government is now allowing pregnant girls to write public exams.
He said government has also endeavour to providing them with special facilities to continue with their education during pregnancy and also provide them with maternal health care facilities.
He said they also prioritise teachers because they believe that one of the challenges with the educational sector is prone to teachers and absentee of teachers in schools over the years was one major problem.