Regional News of Thursday, 10 July 2014
The Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC) has expressed its support for the provision of sanitary pads for needy girls in deprived schools and communities as part of government’s Secondary Education Improvement Programme (SEIP).
“On the inclusion of sanitary pads to needy girls in the list of various direct and indirect school-related materials that students identified would benefit from the scholarships, the Coalition wishes to commend the designers of the project and fully support this for various reasons,” Mr. Bright Appiah, Chairperson of GNECC said at a news conference on Wednesday.
He explained that the substantial issues around the SEIP are all important and that GNECC “identifies with the spirit and letter of the project and is of the firm view that the project is necessary, well thought out and properly designed to assist in not only improving access to, and quality secondary education in Ghana, but also provides an opportunity for marginalised segments of the population to access secondary education”.
The SEIP is a Government project being funded by the World Bank with an amount of 156 million dollars, out of which 100,000 dollars would be spent yearly to provide sanitary pads for needy girls within three years.
Mr. Appiah said members of the coalition are concerned that the project, which has a critical objective of increasing access to senior secondary education in under-served districts and improve quality in low-performing senior high schools (SHS) is being reduced to a debate on sanitary pads and as to the usefulness of the free pads to increase girls' access to secondary education.
He said per the Project Appraisal Document (PAD) of the SEIP, approximately 30,000 new students in secondary education programmes, 150,000 students in low-performing schools, 2,000 SHS teachers, head teachers in addition to education officials will benefiting from the project.
Therefore, what is important is to find a more holistic scrutiny and monitoring by all to ensure that resources are disbursed and utilised in an efficient and transparent manner and within the appropriate financial, auditing and procurement regulations that should govern such processes.
“The Coalition believes that the key issues here is effective mechanisms for targeting girls and other vulnerable students who are truly needy and require such support to avoid the repeat of the challenges that other scholarship schemes have faced in this country,” Mr Appiah noted.
He said GNECC would engage the Ministry of Education and draw up a mechanism to monitor the processes to ensure that the right beneficiaries benefit from the project.
GNECC, therefore, called “for the passions and energies that are currently being dissipated on the sanitary pad saga to be turned to constructive efforts aimed at ensuring that youth in all beneficiary regions, districts; are able to access quality secondary education”.
“All stakeholders, including the media and civil society groups as well as politicians must support processes to empower the public especially, beneficiary communities to hold all the key actors and duty bearers in these processes accountable.
“Spaces should be created for community participation in the procurement processes at the district and school levels, assessment of quality of construction of school buildings and their administration of scholarship packages among others.”