Let Pregnant School Girls Back into the Classroom in Sierra Leone
The government of Sierra Leone issued a ruling last month barring “visibly pregnant” girls from attending class or even sitting for school equivalency exams, a decision that drew criticism from girls’ rights groups. While groups like Brac and others continue to advocate for the right of all girls to attend school, we can also draw attention to alternatives that allow girls who drop out, for whatever reason, to continue their education.
“This is a baffling policy,” says Chernor Bah, a Sierra Leonean children’s rights advocate and an associate at the Population Council. “The government says that having pregnant girls in school might have a negative influence on other girls. Show me one girl who saw a pregnant girl and said, ‘I’d like to get pregnant too.’ And in any case, basic education is a right to all, full stop.”
Others have joined the call to reconsider the ruling. “The ruling in Sierra Leone concerns us,” says Philippa Lei, advocacy director of the Malala Fund, the organisation co-founded by 2014 Nobel-peace-prize laureate Malala Yousafzai. “The Malala Fund is calling on all governments to provide at least 12 years of education free to every child. Their child-bearing or marital status is immaterial.”