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ActionAid Ghana Trains 40 Guidance and Counselling Coordinators on Best Practices for Basic School Child Support in GA West and South Municipality

Ga West AAG Training

ActionAid Ghana, in collaboration with the Municipal Guidance and Counselling Coordinator of the Ghana Education Service, hosted a two-day training for 40 selected teachers-members of Girl Education from the Ga South and Ga West in the Greater Accra region. The 2-day training focused on topics and models on academic skills and achievement, self-esteem, goal setting, personal safety, behaviour, and choices to improve the availability and accessibility of guidance and counselling in our various schools.  

The regional programme of ActionAid Ghana, GAVORP, organised a forum for mothering students and pregnant girls in 2023 to discuss issues affecting them and share their experiences. From these fora, the participants disclosed that the most frequently raised issue faced by young girls is stigmatisation, which affects their mental, emotional, and psychological well-being. This intends to decrease the desire to attend school, resulting in high numbers of mothers and pregnant girls dropping out. Most of the students go through different forms of abuse, such as rape and physical abuse, among others, which they find difficult to confide in someone. This activity will help the selected guidance and counselling teachers identify such students and take them through the necessary course for recovery.

The current practice at the various municipal education offices is to have a guidance and counselling officer at the municipal office working with school guidance and counselling facilitators in each school. The average ratio is about 11,890:1, so the student-to-counsellor ratio in a municipality is disproportionate. Aside from the fact that the number of school-based guidance and counselling facilitators is inadequate, it also came to light that there has been insufficient training for this group of school facilitators. This has limited the ability of the school-based counsellor to fully deliver.

A study by Africa Education Watch also revealed that there are over 192,500 school dropouts in Ghana, with over 102,000 being girls. Up to 30% of school dropouts occurring among girls are attributed to teenage pregnancy emanating from social and economic factors. The Ministry of Health reports 555,575 teenage pregnancies between 2016 and 2020, with 109,865 teenage pregnancies in 2020 alone. The impact of the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic on education can never be over emphasised, and teenage girls are the most affected. A COVID-19 School Re-opening report by Africa Education Watch during their monitoring of the partial re-opening of schools for finalists also indicates that 20% of schools recorded between 1-3 girls not returning to school due to teenage pregnancy and migration.

Participants deliberated on the challenges school-based guidance and counselling facilitators face in the schools, which include abuse of drugs by students, suicidal issues, and sexual immorality amongst the students.

The Municipal Director (Ga West), Mr. Victor N. Tawiah, stressed some emotional issues children are exposed to, citing the practice of sacking children from school due to unpaid examinations and school fees. He lamented and cautioned all teachers present at the meeting to desist from asking children to leave school or the exam hall due to unpaid examination fees. He further advised that the teacher should rather reach out to the parents of the child and reach an agreement. He stated that children don’t bear the cost of the fees they pay in school and therefore shouldn’t be driven away from school because of unpaid fees.

Madam Salome Awuah, the girl child education officer for Ga West, also encouraged facilitators to actively engage students on the options available for the continuation of their education. She advised facilitators to make good use of the GES re-entry forms.

Speaking at the training, the regional programme manager, Madam She Vera Anzagira, noted that the training forms part of ActionAid Ghana’s intervention to ensure that every child has and receives quality education.