Dispatch

Ghanaian youth plead: Stop prioritizing buying of funeral cloths over the payment of our school fees

19 July 2016
Some of the teenage girls present at the World Population Day durbar
Accra, Ghana -- The youth of Ghana have pleaded with their parents to consider paying their school fees as a matter of priority over buying of cloths for every funeral that comes their way. The plea was made on the 11th of July 2016 at a durbar held at the La Nkwatanang cluster of schools in Madina to mark the 2016 World Population Day under the theme “Investing in Teenage Girls”.

The youth in a role-play portrayed how some parents would purchase different cloths for every funeral but would not pay the smallest amount of money needed for the education of their children. The applause from the students on this scene of the drama indicates the familiarity of the issue among students.

The Municipal Chief Executive of La Nkwantang Municipality Mr. Franklin Anku advised the students to try and bring such issues to the attention of the schools’ counselling units so that together they can create a supportive learning environment for them. Touching on an important basic need, he said the Municipality will also endeavor to put measures in place to make the communities a safe haven for teenage girls.
Key messages from UNFPA shared by Ms. Erika Goldson, the UNFPA Deputy Representative at the durbar emphasized that the international community has committed to a new sustainable development agenda built on the principles of equity and human rights. A central objective of the Sustainable Development Goals defined for the agenda is to leave no one behind. Despite significant gains made in reducing poverty and improving opportunity and well-being for many people around the world, many still remain desperate for a chance of a better future. Among those, the least reached by development initiatives are girls, particularly those in their formative teenage years. It was stressed that for this reason UNFPA continues to advocate for Governments everywhere to invest in teenage girls in ways that empower them to make important life decisions and equip them to earn a living, engage in the affairs of their communities and be on equal footing with their male counterparts. It was further pointed out that without this investment countries such as Ghana will not be able to protect the health of teenage girls, including their sexual and reproductive health, to enable them to receive a quality education and to expand economic opportunities, including those for decent work. 
 
Delivering the keynote address, Honourable Dzifa Abla Gomashie, the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts encouraged all teenagers, particularly the girls to make their own but well informed choices in life. She said her call is very critical because whatever consequences come as a result of decisions made today will be borne by the individual in the future.
The Chairman for the occasion Professor Stephen Kwankye of the University of Ghana remarked that the theme for the occasion was very important to the people of Ghana because the proportion of females is higher than males in the Ghanaian population represented by a ratio of 51.2% compared to 48.8%; which means that females in general deserve increased attention in development priority investment. The distinguished Professor stressed that the teenage period requires a lot of attention and guidance as it is the period that marks the peak of the formative years of every individual and particularly for the girl child due to reproductive health challenges that begin during this period of their anatomical development. He concluded that females across all ages in Ghana lag behind, particularly in education which is the fulcrum around which all aspects of development revolve.
All other speakers at the durbar including those from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection and the popular “YOLO” (You Only Live Once) television series group resounded on one theme: investing in the youth, particularly teenage girls will transform Ghana’s social and economic fortunes.