Dep. Min. Gbagonyon: Teenage Pregnancy Leads to Mass Failure in Exams
Monday, 12th September 2016
Dep. Min. Gbagonyon speaking at the opening of the dialogueYouth and Sports Deputy Minister for Youth Development Lance Gbagonyon has attributed the mass failure of students in schools to the rise in teenage pregnancy in Liberia. Speaking at a recent one day dialogue under the theme: “Investing in Teenage Girls” for the reduction of teenage pregnancy in Liberia, Min. Gbagonyon noted that school going youth under age 18 engage themselves in early parenting, which leaves them with the stress of providing for their homes rather than studying their lessons. “The effects teenage pregnancy has on our country is not a secret,” he averred. “If 31 percent (according to the 2016 Liberia Demography Health Survey Report) of our girls under age 18 are getting pregnant instead of learning, graduating from school or engaging in other productive activities, it tells that in the next 10-15 years, social vices will be on the increase in Liberia”. He named teenage pregnancy as one of several reasons that led to the recent mass failure of students in the West African Examination Council (WAEC) exams. “Teenage pregnancy is also a major factor that led to mass failure in the recent WAEC tests, because most of our students have kids to take care of, they have to struggle (sell, worked, etc) to support their homes and pay tuitions for themselves and their children, leaving them with very little time to prepare for the exams,” he asserted. He also linked teenage pregnancy to prostitution. “Teenage pregnancy is also a cause for prostitution, because if a teenage girl bears a child and there is no support for that child and the mother, and the mother has no skill to survive on, the only means of survival will be for the mother to sell her body, which is prostitution,” the deputy minister noted. The regional discourse, which drew participants from Montserrado, Margibi, Grand Cape Mount, Bomi and Gbarpolu Counties, was organized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, with finding from UNFPA. He called for continuation of efforts by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, UNFPA, and other partners, including the Ministries of Health, Gender, Children and Social Protection, and Plan Parent Association of Liberia to tackle the causes of teenage pregnancy, in order to reduce it. UNFPA’s Adolescent Sexual Reproduction Health Program Associate Comfort Kollie told the gathering her institution was “delighted” in funding initiatives aimed at addressing issues relative to teenage pregnancy, because it is a global situation adversely affecting young people whose potentials must be fulfilled. Ms.Kollie said “UNFPA’s mandate is to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled”. “To fulfill the potentials of young people, you can’t have them dropping out of school, contracting HIV and AIDS or affected by fistula due to complications during birth,” “That is why UNFPA is so delighted in supporting such programs as this dialogue”. She stated. Participants of the dialogue: traditional and religious leaders, young women, and youth leaders, identified early marriage especially in rural communities, negative use of social media via the internet, and young people prematurely leaving their parents’ homes to live by themselves, which often results in prostitution, as some of the root causes of teenage pregnancy. Among other things, they recommended that traditional leaders should enforce the abolition of early marriage; young people should use the internet positively for studying and research purposes geared towards improving their academic standing. They also called on parents to devote more time to counseling their children on the dangers of premature parenthood and the benefits of being properly prepared for it. The MYS-UNFPA regional discussion on teenage pregnancy was launched July 11, 2016 in Zwedre, Grand Gedeh County.