Free SHS: Govt urged to add sanitary pads to freebies

Government’s quest to improve enrollment and especially boost attendance through the Free SHS policy could suffer, if female students are not supported with free sanitary pads, a youth and family focused NGO has argued.

Studies, according to J Initiative, have shown that 95% of girls in Ghana do not attend school during menstruation mainly because of the lack of sanitary facilities in schools.

In a statement, Executive Director of J Initiative, Awo Aidam Amenyah said not all girls benefiting from the free senior high school program can afford sanitary pads to properly manage their menstruation.

She was emphatic that the availability of these materials will go a long way to build girls’ confidence and guarantee their retention in schools for effective learning.

“It is sad to note that, the free senior high school program that seeks to remove cost barriers to education and ensure that no child is left behind has woefully failed to include the provision of sanitary pads into the list of things that the government will be catering for under the program,” she opined.

She is confident a proper menstrual hygiene management in school will positively influence attendance and performance in school without compromising on access, equity and quality education.

At least, Madam Awo Aidam Amenyah cited, Ghana can learn from Kenya where funds have been set aside by the government to buy and distribute the commodity to girls from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“So in another developing country, provision of these towels has been made obligatory rather than optional,” she noted.

She pointed out that some girls stay away from school for the total days of menstruation for fear of stigmatization, insufficient sanitary materials or soiled uniform.

“This can impact negatively on the [Free SHS Policy] as poor menstrual hygiene management can result in absenteeism, poor performance, hamper gender parity in education and the overall achievement of the free senior high school program.

In promoting girl-child education in the country J Initiative has instituted the “Happy School Girl Project” (HSGP), girls education focused programme aimed at retaining girls in schools.

By Isaac Essel || Ghana

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