This report is the culmination of five years’ implementation of ActionAid’s multi-country project aimed at empowering girls and enabling them to enjoy their rights to education and participation in a violence-free environment. The uniqueness of this project resides in the connection between research, community intervention and advocacy reinforced by a strong partnership approach.
On ActionAid website are also available the executive summary (French and English) and the success stories (English and Portuguese).
In April 2015 the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology issued a statement banning pregnant girls from mainstream education. The exclusion of pregnant girls from mainstream education and from sitting exams is a violation of their right to education and a discriminatory measure which reinforces negative stereotypes about girls. Enforcement of the ban was immediate and was done through searches and physical examination of girls. Threatening their physical integrity and privacy Despite the establishment by the government with the support of some international donors of an alternative “bridging “ education system that would allow pregnant girls to continue going to school, there are still concerns about the human rights of the girls. Mainly for their lack of choice in attending one system or the other, their inability to take exams and the persistent stigmatisation of the ban.
The African continent has the highest adolescent pregnancy rates in the world, according to the United Nations. Every year, thousands of girls become pregnant at the time when they should be learning history, algebra, and life skills. Adolescent girls who have early and unintended pregnancies face many social and financial barriers to continuing with formal education.
All girls have a right to education regardless of their pregnancy, marital or motherhood status. The right of pregnant—and sometimes married—girls to continue their education has evoked emotionally charged discussions across African Union member states in recent years. These debates often focus on arguments around “morality,” that pregnancy outside wedlock is morally wrong, emanating from personal opinions and experiences, and wide-ranging interpretations of religious teachings about sex outside of marriage. The effect of this discourse is that pregnant girls – and to a smaller extent, school boys who impregnate girls– have faced all kinds of punishments, including discriminatory practices that deny girls the enjoyment of their right to education. In some of the countries researched for this report, education is regarded as a privilege that can be withdrawn as a punishment.
Attacks on education by the insurgent group Boko Haram have caused horrific and long-term suffering for female students and teachers in northeastern Nigeria. Boko Haram has abducted over 600 girls and young women from school during the nine-year conflict, with some held in captivity for years, and many experiencing harmful repercussions long after they return home.
The 106-page report, “‘I Will Never Go Back to School’: Impact of Attacks on Education for Nigerian Women and Girls,” is based on interviews with 119 victims and eyewitnesses of attacks on schools and education, including survivors of the three largest school abductions in Nigeria: Chibok (April 2014), Damasak (November 2014), and Dapchi (February 2018). Women and girls speak out about their terrifying experiences, including forced conversion to Islam, forced “marriage,” rape, and other physical and psychological violence, in the report.
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked unprecedented havoc on children, families and communities around the globe, disrupting vital services and putting millions of lives at risk. Since March, attempts to avert the global health crisis have seen nationwide school closures in 194 countries.
This report spotlights one particular vulnerability that is known to be exacerbated by school closures in times of crisis and risks the continued education of vulnerable children: teenage pregnancy. World Vision estimates that as many as one million girls across sub-Saharan Africa may be blocked from returning to school due to pregnancy during COVID-19 school closures.
Read this report, to learn about some of the girls who will be impacte and find additional information on both the problem as well as proposed solutions.