Laura as I choose to call her is a 17-year-old nursing mother.

She has a 4-month-old baby.

In spite of her circumstances, she is determined to complete her secondary school.

Laura became pregnant shortly after taking the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).

She attended an after-school celebration party after completing junior high school. She had such a wild time, got wasted, had sex, and became pregnant.

“It happened when I was in Form 3. When we completed JHS3, we went to a “Pens Down” party in our town. When we came back, I was drunk, and the thing happened between me and the boy. About a month later, my mother got to know that I was pregnant. She asked me who the child’s father is, and I mentioned the name to her,” she told Joy Prime.

Laura initially consented to aborting the fetus, but the fear of losing her life in the process haunted her, so she decided to keep the pregnancy.

“She called the guy, and she told him that I’m pregnant, so what should they do about it? And they asked me. I told my mother I wanted to continue my education. So I would like to abort the child, and my mother also agreed.”

“When we went to the hospital, they said it is four months now, so we will have to go to Amasaman Hospital, the government one, and that one too is GHS 800. My mother told the guy and he said okay if I said I want to go abort it, he will give me the money. And I was scared and told my mother I can’t do it again so I will bring it to school and she said okay,” she added.      

Laura enrolled at Adidome SHS to study home economics while pregnant.

Three weeks before childbirth, she was granted a leave of absence and after childbirth the mother took care of the baby for her to return to school.

“I managed to bring it to school. When I came too, my friends were like, I shouldn’t worry. They will take care of me. At times, I will be crying that my friends are not pregnant, but as for me, I’m pregnant, and I’ve brought it to school. I was ashamed, but I managed to stay here till June. We didn’t vacate before I went home, and in July, I gave birth. I delivered on 1st July. My mother said she would take care of the baby, so I should come back to school,” Laura said.

The 17-year-old mother is one of three schoolgirls featured in Joy Prime’s documentary, “Classroom Mothers,”  produced by Emmanuel Dzivenu.

The piece explored the startling figures of pregnancy in senior high schools as well as the frantic efforts of stakeholders to keep these pregnant girls and young mothers in school.

Shika represents thousands of teenage girls who get pregnant annually in Ghana.

Over the last five years, the Ghana Health Service District Health Information Management System reported that more than 500,000 girls became pregnant.

Over 13 thousand girls that got pregnant are between the ages of 10 and 14, while some 500 thousand are between the ages of 15 and 19.

Pregnancy among schoolgirls is a global concern, and it is one of the gender-related barriers that prevents girls from completing their education. While pregnancy affects schoolgirls in different ways, the main difficulty is their inability to continue schooling during pregnancy and after childbirth.

In 2018, the Ghana Education Service, through the Girls Education Unit, developed a policy framework to help address the problem of pregnancy among schoolgirls.

The Guidelines for Prevention of Pregnancy among School Girls and Facilitation of Re-Entry into School after Childbirth, among other things, is to ensure girls who are pregnant get a second opportunity to continue their education during pregnancy and after childbirth.

Prior to its introduction, school heads exercised a great deal of discretion to allow pregnant girls or teenage mothers to remain in school.

As a result, some girls drop out of school due to stigma, while others are asked to withdraw by their school heads.

The Adidome SHS has made a concerted effort over the years to provide supportive environments for pregnant schoolgirls and young mothers by reducing stigma and discrimination against them.

The headmaster of the school, Dr. Vincent Atiku, said that “the fact that they’re pregnant doesn’t mean they can’t continue learning, and the pregnancy is for a period. After that period, they should be able to return to school to continue with their education. GES has this policy and has educated all heads of senior high schools, even those basic schools, because pregnancies are occurring in our schools.”

“We should accept these girls in our school and educate the community about the support they need. Formerly, it wasn’t so. If you got pregnant, you were supposed to be dismissed or sacked, but GES saw the wrong we were doing to these girls, so they came in, and now we are to accept them, and that is what we’ve been doing since.”

Meanwhile, Laura has the daring spirit to succeed. She is looking at the brighter side of life and vows to keep nursing her dreams to the top.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.