Rapper Sister Fa takes FGM campaign to Guinea

Source: Tue, 15 Jul 2014 09:00 AM
Author: Sister Fa
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    Ahjatu finished form 1 at school, and then dropped out when she found out she was pregnant. The father of her child is a boy she grew up with. Ahjatu says he has accepted responsibility for the child, and they are now living together. Though she says they are getting along well, she says she has mixed feelings about this, concluding that, "If I had known, I wouldn't have done it."

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    Akala completed primary school, but was unable to continue her education because there is no high school in her community in the Upper West Region of Ghana. The nearest Junior High School is an 18 kilometre walk away, at the end of a track that becomes impassable during the rainy season.

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    Ayisa, 16, from the Upper West region of Ghana, completed form 3 at school but then dropped out after she fell pregnant. The father of her child is a motorcycle mechanic, and she says they both want to get married. When asked about her plans for the future she replied, "My plan is to go to school again." She says wants to be a nurse. Ayisa says she learned about birth control in school, but didn't think pregnancy would happen to her.

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    Baria (18), is a school student from the Volta Region of Ghana. Like all Ghanaian students, ICT is one of her core subjects, but her school has neither electricity nor computers, so she and her fellow students must rely entirely on theoretical knowledge to pass their examinations. A hand-drawn poster of a keyboard, the old motherboard, hard drive and CD drive are the school's only ICT resources.

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    Barikatu (18), from Upper West Region of Ghana, completed primary school, but was unable to continue her education because there is no high school in her community. The nearest Junior High School is an 18 kilometre walk away, at the end of a track that becomes impassable during the rainy season.

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    Comfort, 16, completed school as far as grade 5, but dropped out after her father passed away in 2011, and it became difficult for her mother to support the family. After migrating south to the capital, Accra, to work and then returning, she and Joshua, 23, met at church and started courting. They married three months ago. Joshua has only had a few days of schooling - his father passed away shortly after he started school and he was withdrawn. He farms to support himself and Comfort.

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    Comfort, 14, (left) and Patience, 13, are students at an Army School on the shores of Lake Volta in Ghana. Comfort's favourite subject is science, because she wants to be a nurse and work in a hospital. Patience's favourite subject is ICT, but her school has no computers, so her class relies entirely on textbooks. She's not yet sure what she wants to do after school.

    The girls say the biggest challenges they face in relation to their education are that their school doesn't have enough textbooks (and has no storybooks at all), and that ICT is one of their core subjects yet their school has no computers. Comfort says that her class of 23 students has to share five textbooks in maths, English and science. In other subjects there are between 10 and 15 textbooks for the class to share.

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    Comfort, 14, is a student at an Army School on the shores of Lake Volta in Ghana. Her favourite subject is science, because she wants to be a nurse and work in a hospital. According to Comfort, the biggest challenge she faces in relation to her education is that her school doesn't have enough textbooks, and has no storybooks at all. She says that her class of 23 has to share five textbooks in maths, English and science, and that in other subjects there are between 10 and 15 textbooks available for the class to share.

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    Fuseima (13) on her way home with water from the river about a kilometre's walk from her home in the Upper West Region of Ghana. Fuseima used to go to school, but says that when "petty dues" needed to be paid her parents said they couldn't afford it, so she stopped going.

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    Grace (13) is in Form 1 at school in the Volta Region of Ghana. Science is her favourite subject, because it allows her to learn about the human body. As her school has neither water nor sanitary facilities, she and her fellow students take turns to bring water to school. When it is her turn, she carries a bucket of water on the 30 minute walk from her home to school. If the water runs out, which happen frequently, she may have to go home to get more, which may mean missing class.

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    Hafisa (left) and Mansura playing ampeh, a traditional game similar to rock-paper-scissors, on the football pitch at their school in the Upper West region of Ghana.

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    Africa has the highest rate of girls out of school, and girls who have not completed primary education, in the world. Fifty-two per cent of out-of-school children live in sub-Saharan Africa, a region where four out of five girls receive no formal education.

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    Jenet, 12, explained through tears that she was selling watermelon in the market to earn enough money to buy a new school uniform - she had damaged hers beyond repair, catching it on a nail sticking up from a piece of furniture. With the day mostly over, she indicated that she had sold GHS 16.00 (£3.15) worth of watermelon slices thus far, for which she expected to be paid GHS 2.00 (£0.40) by the owner of the fruit. Jenet is in 4th grade at school in the Upper West region of Ghana, she estimates that she needs about GHS 19.00 (£3.75) for a new uniform. She says her parents cannot afford to buy it for her.

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    Lutufie (right) and Nasiha (right), walk three kilometres to school everyday, from their homes in the Upper West region of Ghana to the school in their neighbouring village.

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    Patience, 13, is a student and keen soccer player at an Army School on the shores of Lake Volta in Ghana. She says her favourite subject is ICT, but her school has no computers, so her class relies entirely on textbooks.

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    While Primary and Junior High School education are officially free in Ghana, schools often impose various informal costs on students. Philomina, 16, says she is working to raise money to pay for "printing fees at school. She buys the atsomo (a local biscuit-like snack) on credit from a baker, selling each one for GHS 0.20 (£0.04), at the end of a day's work she expects to make between GHS 8.00 and GHS 10.00 profit (£1.60 to £2.00).

    Philomena's father passed away and her mother lives in the north of the country, so she lives with her older brother. Her mother sometimes sends money to support them - about GHS 100 (£20) per month - which is not enough to cover all their expenses, but "we manage".

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    Clockwise from left: Asig, Nyawbaamur, Tommy and Wusaanyema doing their homework by the light of flashlights in the Upper West Region of Ghana. Located 18 kilometres down a rough track from the nearest town - a distance that most residents must walk - this remote community has neither electricity nor clean water. During the rainy season, rivers swell and the track to the village becomes impassable, cutting them off from the outside world.

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    Clockwise from left: Nyawbaamur, Tommy, Wusaanyema and Asig doing their homework by the light of flashlights in the Upper West Region of Ghana. Located 18 kilometres down a rough track from the nearest town - a distance that most residents must walk - this remote community has neither electricity nor clean water. During the rainy season, rivers swell and the track to the village becomes impassable, cutting them off from the outside world.

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    Tommy on her way to school with a basin of water from her village in the Upper West Region of Ghana. The government school in her village has no water, and so students - only girls, not boys - must carry water from the river about a kilometre away to school every day.

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    Umuliara, 18, pictured in her village in the Upper West Region of Ghana, completed primary school, but was unable to continue her education because there is no high school in her community. The nearest Junior High School is an 18 kilometre walk away, at the end of a track that becomes impassable during the rainy season.

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