The Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Save the Children Sierra Leone is reported to have been engaging some Members of Parliament and Traditional Leaders on how to tackle early marriage after it has been realized in Sierra Leone and across the African continent that teenage pregnancy isone of the serious problems affecting the development of young girls.
Nonetheless, I want to completely disagree with the statement of the Chairperson of the Gender and Children’s Affairs Committee in Parliament, Hon. Catherine Zainab Tarawally that “90% of girls in secondary school have given birth because of poor parental care,” as reported in the Monday 23rd May, 2022 edition of Awoko newspaper. Such erroneous assumption is unacceptable and untenable given the enormous progress being made by Sierra Leone in the education of girls.
My question to Hon. Catherine Zainab Tarawally is that if 90% of girls in secondary school have given birth because of poor parental care, why do we currently have more girls than boys in basic education? Or is she insinuating that 90% of the parents of school girls do not take better care of their children that often results to them giving birth in school?
In other words, Hon. Catherine Z. Tarawally is assuming that only 10% of girls in secondary school have not given birth because of good parental care. This is an erroneous assumption because since the Bio administration introduced the Free Quality School Education (FQSE) in 2019 as its flagship programme, enormous progress is being made by Sierra Leone in the field of education and the education of girls. For example, at the begging of the 2021/22 school year, the Minister of Basic and Senior School Education, Dr. David Moinina Sengeh stated emphatically that more girls are now enrolled than boys in basic education. This was recently amplified by the Vice President, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, who represented His Excellency President Brig. (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio at a recent international conference in Freetown, when he spoke highly about the enormous progress being made by Sierra Leone in the field of education and the education of girls.
The conference attracted participants from several countries around the world and its main theme was ‘gender equality through education’, hence one of the reasons Sierra Leone was chosen as host. Vice President Juldeh Jalloh disclosed at the conference that Sierra Leone has employed 8,000 more female teachers with more girls than boys in basic education. While such progress is being made under the New Generation Government, Hon. Catherine Tarawally is giving the world the wrong impression that 90% of secondary school girls have given birth because of poor parental care. For goodness sake, how come did this Honourable Member of Parliament arrive at such unbelievable percentage of girls giving birth in school? If that is the case, then our school girls would be procreating tens of thousands of children per every school year which is very impossible.
Verily, our Honourable Members of Parliament deserve serious respect as our representatives in that august body. As our representatives, we do rely on them for vital information about governance and the State. We don’t expect them to misinform us about what we are supposed to know and disseminate to the public; instead, we expect them to do thorough research on national issues they want to address through debates, discussions, discourse, seminars and other engagements so that the people would be well informed on them. But cooking up figures like what Hon. Catherine Tarawally did will give the impression that some of our lawmakers do not do research on what they actually want to tell the public. I will therefore advise that anytime Hon. Catherine Tarawally wants to address any pertinent issue of national interest, she must ensure that she is well informed on that issue through research before she addresses it.