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ECOWAS ruling: new Sierra Leone policy to protect pregnant schoolgirls

ECOWAS ruling: new Sierra Leone policy to protect pregnant schoolgirls

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone has rolled out plans to review its educational curriculum in a bid to guarantee unbiased access to citizens.

A Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) taskforce has been established by the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, MBSSE.

Its main mandate is to advice the government on issues relating to the radical involvement of women and girls into Sierra Leone’s national development.

“The taskforce will commission and undertake relevant research, draft white papers and develop policy documents, and serve as a platform for engaging civil society and the community on government policies affecting the right to access education by all girls…” a statement from the Ministry read in part.

With a one-year mandate from the start, it pools together representatives from government, donor agencies -UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO, UNESCO – teachers unions, other civil society organizations.

The 27-member body is co-chaired by a government rep and another from the United Nations Population Fund.

Policy review and recommendations on pregnant girls is one of its main tasks whiles also seized with sexuality education curriculum and guidelines for all schools.

Last week, the government was defeated in a regional court sitting in Abuja on the subject of selective education for pregnant schoolgirls.

The ECOWAS court ruled that banning these girls and or creating special schools for them amounted to discrimination and a denial of a fundamental human right. An order was thus given for the said policy to be reviewed.

Sierra Leone president Julius Maada Bio last year declared rape a national emergency. The declaration came on the back of a spike in figures and an aggressive government action to combat the trend.

Over in neighbouring Ghana, government was forced to backtrack on a sexuality education program after public outrage over portions of the document.

People across the political and religious divide protested the fact that the said document had undertones of same-sex content and that other portions were overly explicit.

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