The girl-child has the right to access quality education, skills training and lifelong learning opportunities in a safe environment.
However, due to a combination of factors, many girls are forced to drop out of school while others never have the opportunity to start in the first place.
Regrettably, Bayanfui Theresa, 18 years from the Kpandai District in the Northern Region of Ghana, struggled her way through to Junior High School (JHS) and to Senior High School (SHS) but had to drop out in her first year due to financial constraints and lack of family support.
Explaining her predicament, she lamented that being the first-born among five children from a single parent presents challenges beyond her control.
“I am the first born among five children, I had admission in 2015 to study General Arts at the Northern School of Business (NOBISCO), it’s the same year my parents divorced and as a result, my dad fell sick and couldn’t afford to pay my school fees,” Theresa cried.
“I had to drop out of school to assist in farming and taking care of my sick father and siblings. And I have given up a lot to get my father and my siblings and myself to survive.”
The shuttered dream
Theresa dreams of becoming a nurse, opting to study general arts was part of the journey to realize it.
She has worked all her life, including engaging in pepper cultivation to enable her to raise money to support the family and her education.
“My dad handled the other farm activities while I worked together with my siblings to cultivate the pepper farm to raise money to support the family and afford our educational needs.
“We got overwhelmed with the work when my dad fell sick and left all the farm activities in our hands. My siblings and I could not farm enough to take care of our sick dad, cater for ourselves and still keep schooling. I had to forget my dream of becoming a nurse to enable me to fully assume farm work and take care of my dad and siblings.”
She added that her dad suggested that she should join a tailoring apprenticeship, which she agreed to but stayed all three years round without the dad coming up with money to pay for the apprenticeship training.
“Though I agreed to do tailoring which was the only option available for me, my dad couldn’t raise the money to pay for the apprenticeship training.”
Intervention as Theresa finds new passion
Growing up, Theresa also loved the art of painting.
“I have always been amazed at how they use colors, because colors express a lot of emotions”.
Fortunately, Theresa was enrolled in painting apprenticeship through Girls’ Life Choices Project that is being implemented by Savana Signatures with support from UNICEF Ghana and Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).
The project is supporting 500 young girls with employable skills and opportunities in non-traditional trades; carpentry, welding, spraying, painting, masonry, tiling, electrical, and fabrication and glazing.
This is to help end issues of child marriages in the country and to also create avenues for females to venture into perceived male-dominated skilled professions.
Theresa is optimistic that her new found passion is the best opportunity she could harness to improve her livelihood and support her family.
“I love the work because I believe it would afford me the opportunity to improve my living condition, my trainer is not limited to painting but he is equally into sign post/board designs and drawing.”
The master trainer, Kennedy Kofi, highlighted that Theresa together with her 11 colleagues who are undergoing the training with him are doing very well as they actively take part in the learning process.
He admonished other young girls to emulate the passion these young girls have developed to embark on male-dominated profession training.
The GLC project is being implemented in 80 communities across 16 districts of the Northern, North East, Savannah, Oti and Volta Regions.