Girls’ Education Ranks ‘High’ In Lofa

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Amidst reports of gender inequality and the challenge of girls’ education in Liberia, a 2015 Status of Girls Report released has revealed that there are more girls’ enrollment and female graduates in Lofa County than other populated counties.

The report, compiled by the African Development Associates (ADEAS) and submitted to the Adolescent Girls Unit of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, said the completion of girls from primary and secondary educations in Lofa County is 64 percent, while the boys, is 34 percent.

ADEAS made the formal reports on Monday, October 12 at the Paynesville Town Hall during the official program marking the 4th observance of the International Day of the Girl Child. The program was held under the theme, “Ensuring Quality Education for Girls Empowerment.”

Over 1,000 students were in attendance from several elementary and senior high schools in Monrovia, Paynesville and environs.

The Liberia 2015 Status of Girls Report indicated that boys’ completion rate from primary and secondary education in Bong County is 54 percent and the girls’ completion rate is 46 percent.

The report further said the completion rate of both boys and girls in Montserrado County is 50 percent each.

However, the report also said the dropout rate of girls in Bong County is 51 percent, Montserrado County 55 percent and Lofa County 51 percent.

According to the reports, the survey includes 221 girls and 79 boys in 15 schools, 15 communities in three counties.

Factors affecting girls’ retention in school include long hours of household work, long distance walk to school and absence of food amongst others.

The Country Representative of UN Women, Awa Ndiaye Seck, made a special statement on behalf of UN organizations. She promised to work with the government through the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to support girls’ education.

Madam Seck said Sustainable Development Goals would succeed the Millennium Development Goals at the end of 2015, and therefore, UN Women would continue to support “a girl child to acquire quality education.”

Gender Minister Julia D. Cassell said the UN declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.

“It’s a day when activist groups come together under the same goal to highlight, discuss and take action to advance rights and opportunities for girls everywhere,” Min. Cassell said.

This year, as the international community assesses progress under the MDGs since their implementation in 2000 and sets goals to be achieved by 2030, girls born at the turn of the millennium have reached adolescence, and the generation of girls born this year will be adolescent in 2030.

“In recognition of the importance of investing in adolescent girls’ empowerment and rights, both now and tomorrow, this year’s theme is “the Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030,” Min. Cassell said.

She indicated that girls in the country are no exception to the plights faced by girls around the globe, arguing that several reports and studies reveal that rape is a crime mainly committed against young women between 10-19 years.

“Girls under age 15 years report that they are being forced into sexual activities against their will and 11 percent of girls are married by age 15 years and 38 percent by age 18,” Min. Cassell stated.

“Through the different stakeholders’ programming around girls’ rights in Liberia, there are signs of positive change of attitudes toward girls…and the Ministry will continue working with other international and national actors to commit by putting adolescent girls at the centre of sustainable development efforts,” she said.

The activities marking the activities began on Thursday, October 8 with an inspiring Memorial Service in remembrance of fallen girls and young women who lost their lives during the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease (EVD).

The program included a motivational talk session, which allowed for prominent stakeholders including Madam Sheila Paskman, Deputy U.S. Ambassador to Liberia and Dr. Margaret Kilo, Resident President of the African Development Bank (ADB), to stimulate Liberian girls on how they can maximize their potential.

For her part, former Miss Liberia, Patrice Juah, suggested that girls should have the right to be free to define their lives and enjoy their rights as well as enjoy better health and healthier children.

She urged parents to not give their children to ‘godpa’ as breadwinners for the family, but send them to school to enable them contribute to national development as economic actors and entrepreneurs.

Miss Juah said ‘old men’ should not take advantage of their girls, but should encourage them to go to school.

She stated the government must seriously tackle the global goal of educating all girls.

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