Wednesday, 13 April 2016

DOUBLE MEDALS: A LOOMING DANGER, AN UNENDING MENACE



A few months ago, many news portals online, sound, print and television carried a story about President John Dramani Mahama promising to reward the taxi driver who thwarted the escape of the two robbers involved in the Cantonments robbery incident with an apartment. The announcement was made by the Vice President K. B. Amissah-Arthur when he hosted the taxi driver, Nana Yaw, at the Flagstaff House. He also commended the taxi driver for his heroic act. Two days after honoring the invite to the Flagstaff House, the Management of KOALA Supermarket presented a new Chevrolet Optra Saloon Car to the taxi driver who foiled a robbery attack on a KOALA employee, (Lydia Horsu) at Cantonments in Accra. The presentation was in fulfilment of a promise made to the taxi driver after his heroic deed came to light. 
Many people are being rewarded with double medals on daily basis for the good deeds and exceptional behavior like Nana Yaw. However, the story happens to be different for many young teenage girls in both rural and urban areas across Ghana. Whilst some students are gaining double medals such as regional and national awards for their distinguishing performance in BECE, others complete with pregnancies or a baby and terrible results. Theirs unfortunately, is double agony! The rate at which cases of teenage pregnancy are recorded annually during such a period is very alarming. 
STATISTICS:

The attention of Ghanaians has been called severally towards teenage pregnancy. Getting to the end of every academic year when Junior High School students take their Basic Education Certification Examination (BECE), one often hear on the news about some girls turning up to write their papers pregnant. Statistics from most exam centers may vary however across the ten regions of Ghana; for example in the Eastern region alone, 33 females failed to sit their exam as a result of pregnancy in 2009. The Western region recorded 572 teenage pregnancies with girls as young as 10 getting pregnant and dropping out of schools. In the Ashanti Region at least 5 girls wrote their BECE while pregnant and a minimum of 3 as mothers. The average age of these girls is 15 per statistics from most centers where cases of this nature have been recorded. The statistics are much higher and worrisome in other regions of Ghana. Last year, the female caucus of Parliament in the month of July, 2015 expressed their worry about the growing phenomenon. Alarmed at the statistics, the women of the house then followed up with a news conference together with queen mothers from the Central Region, where the menace is on the rise. Close to 14,000 teenagers in the region got pregnant last year indicating a 64% increase in the region over the previous years. Teenage births form a high percentage of the total births in the country.  
Consequentially, teenagers who get pregnant are solely blamed for their condition and may forever not recover from the slip whilst the male culprits in most cases go scot-free to pursue the personal interest including impregnating other teenagers.

CAUSES:

The causes of this menace though numerous primarily is poverty. We no more 
adore the educated; we glorify wealth whether gotten legally or not. In the rural areas some parents literally push their teenage girls into unhealthy relations so as to get some peanut. Most urban parents on the other hand leave home at dawn returning when children are asleep oblivion of what is going on.
A lot of parents usually do not know where their children/wards would be after that Saturday afternoon class or the evening church rehearsals. We are always busy attending social gatherings and functions such as funerals, weddings and others to the detriment of being with the children. The case of homes with single parent may be worse. Others also don’t really mind allowing their children hang out around the mall for so long meeting friends and even strangers who could be older than they are.
Unfortunately, gone are the days when the upbringing of a child is the responsibility of the society one belongs to as a whole. We have become nucleus and one dare not correct a “straying” or wayward child.  
It is also true many adolescents report pressured by their peers to have sex before they are ready. Children who are not shown love and affection from parents will seek it out from their peers. Others argue that, primarily low self-esteem is among the major causes of teen pregnancy.  Let us face it, the proliferation of obscenity on our television stations in the name of modernity is also a major cause. We as a people swallow everything foreign hook, line and sinker! The telenovelas especially have come to adulterate our culture. I must confess that moral degeneration of modern day Ghana is a leading cause of teenage pregnancy and this is as a result of what our teenagers see on television these days.
Gone are the days when an un-married teenage girl that gets pregnant is regarded as bringing shame to the family! In recent news, a mother in the Northern region butchered her 22 year old pregnant daughter. Murder suddenly becomes less of a crime in the eyes of a disappointed mother as though pregnancy ever where a crime. Those were the days when “kayayei” apart from being adults had homes they could return to at the close of the day. Most were responsible mothers. There was no streetism then, and parents will not frown on the disciplining of the children by relatives and others in their society.  
(In South Africa) today, To protect teenage girls from HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancy in the Uthukela district located on the eastern sides of the KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa, the district leadership is making a ‘good example’ out of 16 supposedly virgin teenage girls by granting them a conditional scholarship to the University. Double medals? The lucky 16 girls that secured themselves the scholarship will have to take regular virginity test to continue receiving the bursary. As expected, this did not only received its fair share of condemnation by some Human Rights organizations based in South Africa, but it has generated a huge and mixed reactions and discussions amongst many people.
Recently, I listened to some young participants at this year’s Afri-One Youth Forum, held at the Fiesta Royale Hotel in Dzworwulu- Accra, debate amongst themselves on how a similar move in Ghana, could help encourage teenage girls to stay chaste.
SUPPORT SYSTEM:
Poor education on sexual health and reproductive health rights is wrecking the lives of many girls in Ghana. Many girls and women after giving birth are not able to continue their education. The few, who do, go home with very bad grades and do not make it to senior high school. Instead of providing a support system they are punished to serve as a deterrent and in some societies they are left to their fate or even kicked out of their homes while others are ridiculed by the hour. One would think perhaps it is possible for girls to get pregnant all by themselves. However, the nonexistence of a supportive system for pregnant girls encourages unsafe abortions, complications and deaths. Good nutritional therapy and ante-natal care is often not mentioned as rights for pregnant girls. 
THE WAY FORWARD:

Sadly, teenage pregnancy has gradual become part of our culture now everywhere; we as a nation have to come to terms with it and find ways and means to reduce this scourge to the barest minimum. It is not enough talking about it. What are the chances of the teenage mother rising up from the dust to an enviable position in life? What will the future of the children born to this unfortunate girls going to be without proper care and up-bring? Or theirs too will be a kind of vicious circle? It is time the issue is tackled with all the energy and resources it requires.
This will require two prong efforts (action?) – at home and at school. Teachers will have to be empowered by the provision of the necessary tools, books and other resources to teach sex education without parents kicking against it. The government comes in here. Parents must support the teachers; after all the teachers are only playing a complimentary role.
·        Providing positive role modeling: In the past, most children had role models and parents do go to extent of selecting people they will want their child to be like. Whether the children of today know of role models is another issue. It is time parents feed the children/wards with positive role models irrespective of one status in society.
·   Parents must create the conducive atmosphere in their homes whether they are financially sound or not to make the child want to stay and learn. It is not always about money!
·        Families with two parents in the home have a lower incidence of teen pregnancies. However, even as a single parent, you can still extend the love, affection, and care your child needs. As a single parent you have less time for yourself, but your child needs a positive role model.
·        Knowing where your teens are going and whom they are with is basic Parenting 101. If you don't know the kids they are hanging out with, get to know them. Allow your teenage child to have friends over; but make sure you educate them on the repercussions of any wrongful choices he or she will make. Where possible, get to know the parents of their friends.
·        Agreed it is not possible to hang on your teenage child like a fly to flypaper. So, give him/her the tools to make good decisions. Talk to him/her about sex and birth control, and the causes of teen pregnancy. You wouldn't want to withhold information about preventing type 2 diabetes, so why would you withhold how to prevent teen pregnancy or STDs? In recent times, YOLO (a popular TV series on adolescent reproductive health) offers parents and teens an opportunity to discuss issues of adolescent reproductive health.
·        Be the parent your teenage child needs. Be available and interested in their lives. Ask questions. Set rules and stick by them. Be the bad guy because that is the job you signed up for when you had children. Above all, lead them with love.

Writer:
Sampson Adotey Jnr
Volunteer, Odekro (www.odekro.org)
Tel: 0243453487/0205737034
Blog: blaqstoryteller.blogspot.com


THANKS FOR READING.......

Saturday, 5 March 2016

NO WATER, NO LIGHT, NO ROAD, NO VOTE!





                     Source: news.ayekoo.com/kitnes/cache/images/800x/0/1.8667389.png

Travelling to Kumasi from Wa, i came across several sign boards with the inscription No water,No roads, No light, No vote strategically positioned close by the road side to attract the mercies of politicians. 

In my mind i ask, what has the assembly man done about this situation? The District Assemblies? etc 

Do we have to wait till its an election year to put up sign boards like that?

Have our folks in these communities been sleeping all this while?

How do we get rural folks to hold their leaders accountable?

In Ghana today, an assembly man resigns to be a presiding member, a party chairman resigns to be a DCE, a DCE eyes the seat of the MP and an MP does same for a ministerial appointment. A minister also has his eyes set on the seat of Presidency.

Our politicians are busily eyeing something that  they have forgotten the people who got them there.

Ghana Decides 2016. 

Watch out for ODEKRO.ORG, GHANA DECIDES by Blogging Ghana and more on news cables

Thursday, 21 January 2016

ASSESSING THE ROLE/IMPORTANCE OF LANGUAGE IN TRANSFORMING OUR WORLD: THE 2030 AGENDA FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT


ASSESSING THE ROLE/IMPORTANCE OF LANGUAGE IN TRANSFORMING OUR WORLD: THE 2030 AGENDA FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.

In recent times, development organizations have come to adopt a participatory approach in undertaking developmental projects in rural areas and places where a lot is desired in terms of development. As a developer whose interest lies in the use of communication tools in facilitating development, it baffles me to see the neglect of the very crucial element of culture that most people living in very remote and under developed areas cling on to by development organizations that usually militates against steady progress expected by these organizations. Ghana committed itself to the tenets of the Millennium Development Goals in September 2001. To ensure full implementation of these goals, it mainstreamed them into the respective national development policy frameworks. According to the Ghana MDG’s 2015 report, progress towards the attainment of the MDGs has been reported on annually since 2002 in Annual Progress Reports on the implementation of national development policy frameworks. Special MDG reports have also been prepared biennially to examine trends and to assess the supporting environment and resources needed to attain the goals.

Interestingly, a search through these numerous reports shows no inclusion of language as a resource needed to attain these goals. Although Ghana’s progress has been mixed (similar to that of a number of Sub Saharan African states) with targets such as halving extreme poverty (MDG1A), halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water (MDG 7B), universal primary education (MDG 2A) and gender parity in primary school (MDG 3) have been attained. Substantial progress has been made in reducing HIV prevalence (MDG 6C), access to ICT (MDG 8F) and reducing the proportion of people suffering from hunger. However, only slow progress has been made on full and productive employment (MDG 1B), equal share of women in non-agriculture wage employment, and women’s involvement in governance (MDG 3), reducing under-5 and child mortality (MDG 4), reducing maternal mortality (MDG 5), reversing environmental resource loss and improving sanitation (MDG 7)[Ghana’s Millennium Development Goals 2015 Report, pg. vi].With the MDG’s dovetailing into SDG’s (Sustainable Development Goals), it’s important that aside been guided by experiences gathered in the execution of policies and programmes within the MDG framework, we as a country utilize language as a means to achieving the 17 SDG’s.

Unfortunately, Africa is the only continent where language is used to define us. Most people have classified Africa into Anglophone, Lusophone and Francophone sections probably as a result of our ties with our ‘colonial masters’. African societies are highly multilingual and polyglothic using their mother tongue in their local environment and any other inter-ethnic lingua franca once they leave their environment. Unfortunately, these indigenous languages are not relevant means of mass media and not widely used in formal education. These languages are unfortunately not the languages of national governments and languages of mass communication are hardly the languages of the people. These been the language situation in Africa is very alarming and detriment to our emancipation. Considering Ghana as an ideal example, 51% of total annual broadcast hours is dedicated to English alone. It leaves the rest for all the many Ghanaian and other African languages. This authenticates the linguistic and communication discrepancy/mismatch on the African continent and this has very serious consequences on the development efforts of the African people.

In a case study titled ‘MULTILINGUALISM IN GHANA’ by Bodomon Adams (1998), he classifies languages in Ghana into 3. They include;

A.   Indigenous Languages:

·         Akan; Fante, Bono, Kwahu, Akuapem, Asante, Akyem etc

·         Mabia; Dagbani, Kusa, Mampruli, Gruni, Waale etc

·         Gbe; Ewe, Fon, Aja, Mina.

·         Gruma; Konkomba, Maba, Baasari.

·         Guan; Gonja, Nchumbru, Krachi, Gichode, Nawuri, Nkonya, Cherepon, Larteh, Ewutu, Efutu.

·         Ga-Adangbe; Ga, Adangbe.

·         Nzema; Nzema, Sehwi, Anyi(Aowin), Ahanta, and Anofu(Chakosi)

·         Grussi; Kassim, Issalim(Sisala), Chakali, Tampluma, Vagala, Mo

·         Buem; Adele, Lelemu, Bowin, Sekpele, Siwu, Santrofi, Logba, Avatime

·         Nafaanra; Nkuraena, Nafaanra and Ntrubo-Chala

 

B.    Other African Languages:

·         Chadic

·         Hausa

·         Mande Languages (Ligbi, Bisa)

 

C.   Foreign Languages:

·         English

·         Arabic

·         French

It is important that we are exposed to these classifications so we can adequately and appropriately be informed on how to effectively communicate with these groups in achieving the 17 goals outlined in the SDG’s.

Language has a symbolic function. There exist a tight relationship between language and ethnicity in many parts of the world. Language is also seen as a granary of the world view of its speakers. It expresses and best contains the indigenous belief systems of the people. New belief systems are sometimes immediately added to the existing belief systems. Development is only possible with the massive involvement of the people themselves and not only the elite. This importantly puts the indigenous language at the center of development discourse. Therefore, there is the need to evolve the language paradigm of development to be called development linguistics.

Summarily, if Africa and specifically Ghana would be able to excellent perform or achieve the SDG’s within the next 15years and also be economically prosperous, emphasis should be placed on language and other indigenous tools in communicating and ensuring effective participation of all and sundry in the development process. Mass media is a very crucial tool but a lot of work has to be done through community radio broadcasting, community theatre, and many other art forms. There is no doubt the role programs like by the fireside and concert parties have played in the development process of the people.

Governments must involve all stakeholders and create enabling environments for partnership opportunities between Aid organization, CSO’s and social enterprises as well as start-ups. When this is done, we can move at a faster pace and development would be much more decentralized.

 

 

Writer:
Sampson Adotey Jnr
Senior Year, UDS
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Integrated Development Studies (Development Communication Option)

Founder/Team Lead- DORTS ( A non-profit organization that uses indigenous communication tools in education rural communities on issues relating to Health, Education, Civil Rights, Agriculture etc. )

Volunteer, Odekro (www.odekro.org)

Tel: 0243453487/0205737034