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General News of Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Source: thechronicle.com.gh

71% of children had early childhood education in 2017/18


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The Ghana Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) for 2017/18 has indicated that attendance rates for early childhood and pre-primary education were as high as 71% – with four out of every five children of five years of age attending early childhood or primary education for organised learning.

Similar attendance rates of 81% were maintained at the primary level. However, there was a sharp decrease at JHS where only two out of every five children continued to attend school within the period. Net attendance rate further shrunk at SHS, where only one out of five children attended school.

The findings are contained in the MICS summary report released by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) at a dissemination workshop held in Kumasi for stakeholders and the media from the middle zone. Participants were drawn from the Western North, Bono, Bono East, Ahafo and Ashanti regions.

The MICS is an international household survey programme developed and supported by UNICEF to collect estimates of key indicators that are used to assess the situation of children and women.

It is a key source of data on child protection, early childhood education and a major source of data on child health and nutrition.

In addition, MICS generates data for monitoring the progress towards national goals and global commitments that aim at promoting the welfare of children and also provides valuable data for the SDGs.

According to the report, Girls Net attendance rates were marginally higher than boys’ at primary and JHS levels but SHS within the period.

School attendance rates varied significantly according to wealth and residence, and children who mostly attended through the levels of education were those who belong to richer households and live in urban areas.

While attendance rates varied across regions, Volta, Brong-Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions were consistently represented in the bottom five across all levels of education. Greater Accra had the highest attendance rates in primary, JHS and SHS with 89%, 57% and 30% respectively.

Early Grade Learning & Parental Involvement

The report said, only one out of every five children between ages 7-14 years had foundational reading skills while numeracy skills were lower since only one in every ten children age 7-14 years was able to demonstrate the required skills.

Greater Accra was the highest performer in both reading and numeracy, while Northern and Upper West regions were the least respectively. Overall, girls performed better in reading skills while boys outperformed girls in numeracy skills.

Children in urban areas and those in rich households outperformed their counterparts in rural and poorest households respectively, in both literacy and numeracy skills.

The report further said parental involvement in school management was relatively high with 77% for meetings called by a school governing body.

Child Discipline

The report said 94% of almost all of children aged 1 to 14 years, were reported to experienced any form of violent discipline. Among age groups, any physical punishment was highest among children 3-4 years and lowest among children 10-14 years.

There were no large differences in coverage or disparities in relation to violent discipline and residence, sex, wealth or education of mother or child.

Less males (less than half) compared to six in every ten females felt that physical punishment is necessary in bringing up a child. Additionally, the more educated respondents are, the less they feel or think that physical punishment is necessary to raise or educate children

Child Labour: Levels & Disaggregates

The report indicated that one in every five children 5-17 years was engaged in hazardous working conditions

Children 5-17 years were more engaged in economic activities than household chores, particularly the 5-11 years age group. About one in every three children age 5 to 17 years is engaged in child labour.

Children 5-17 years involved in hazardous working conditions are mostly found in rural areas, among the poorest and among those not attending school. There were no huge disparities related to sex of the child.

The Northern, Upper West and Upper East Regions had the highest proportions of children involved in child labour while the least were found in Greater Accra and Ashanti regions.

Child Marriage

According to the report, “one in every five women age 20-24 years were first married before age 18 years. This remained lower, at one in every 20 women for the same age group, married for the first time before age 15 years. Marriage before age 15 and 18 years was lowest among the age cohort 20-24 years”.

Among the different age cohorts, marriage before ages 18 and 15 years was highest among the 35-39 and 40-44 years age groups respectively. More proportion of persons in rural than urban areas practiced child marriage.

The report said: “Child Marriage was highest in Northern, Upper East and Volta regions, and lowest in Greater Accra, Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo regions. Child marriage increased with less wealth and less education”.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Overall, the report said the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) is low in the country, however women in the rural areas (3.6%) perform FGM 3 times more than women in urban areas (1.2%).

Similarly, women in the poorest quintile perform FGM 7 times more compared to women in the richest quintile. Female genital mutilation decreases with age, and the most common type of FGM reported was one that involved the removal of flesh.

“More than nine in every ten of those who have heard about FGM do not agree with the continuity of this practice”, the report said.

“It must be noted that prevalence data for girls aged 0 to 14 reflect their current, but not final, FGM/C status since some girls who have not been mutilated may still be at risk of experiencing the practice once they reach the customary age for cutting”, the report stressed.

Drinking-Water, Sanitation & Hygiene-WASH

The report found that eight in every ten household populations were using basic drinking water services.

Regions that are hydrologically challenged, such as the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions, are now clearly noticeable as having lower than national average access to basic water (improved water within 30 minutes).

“E-coli is highest in household drinking water than at source. Close to eight in every ten households had E-coli in their drinking water while close to half of water sources were affected”, the report said.

“There is a clear wealth disparity on basic water access, with the wealthy nearly twice are likely to have access than the poor”, it added. Additionally, urban dwellers are more likely to have basic access than those from rural areas.

“Only one in every five households in Ghana have an improved sanitation facility for their household”, the report said while more than one in every five still practice open defecation”, the report said and added that,

“nearly half of the poorest quintile household population practices open defecation and this practice significantly decreases with increase in wealth”.

The reported noted that open defecation is more prevalent in rural areas while sharing of sanitation remains prevalent, and one in every four household populations use public facilities.

Nearly half of the populations have access to a hand washing with soap facility (mobile or fixed), with soap and water present. About one in every five of the women feel excluded from social activities during menstruation.

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