The Coalition for the Ghana Youth Federation (Co-GYF), has urged the Ghana Education Service (GES) to take steps to tackle sexual abuse in schools.
A statement signed by Mrs Theodora W. Anti of the Co-GYF, said following recent reports of sexual abuse scandals in schools, the Coalition was of the view that this practice had been condoned for far too long in our schools and it is time to take urgent steps to stop it.
It said the Coalition was therefore, calling on the Ministry of Education, the GES, Parent and Teacher Associations (PTAs), School Management Committees (SMCs), Traditional Authorities, Teacher Unions, the National Youth Authority (NYA), the Ministry of Youth and Sports, The Ministry of Children, Gender and Social Protection, the Media, Civil Society and all other relevant stakeholders to urgently take proactive action to protect and save the future of the girl child and our society.
“It is important to note that some victims of this abuse never fully recover even though the perpetrators are left to continue their lives as usual,” it stated.
“Sexual abuse, especially of children, has serious consequences on the victims and society. In fact, several linkages can be drawn to the act, unfortunately, all these linkages are adverse,” it added.
The statement said the act perpetuates a distorted understanding of life to the victims who were mostly girls and discriminatorily undermines the quality of their education.
It said consequently, these children miss out on the opportunity to realise their full potential, gravely undermining the future of the child and tacitly working against women empowerment and gender equality.
The statement said the deadly threat was that society was gradually getting convinced that it was normal for girls to be sexually abused.
It said teachers who engage in amorous relations with their students betray not only the confidence or trust placed in them but the development and life of the young ones.
“Eventually, it will amount to an illusion to expect Ghana’s workforce (population within age of 15 and 64) to accrue the needed benefits (demographic dividends) while the act persists,” it said.
It said the Coalition was most worried about the tokenistic approach with which these issues were addressed; declaring that “e need more than that if we have to win the fight against this entrenched canker”.
“We therefore call on the GES to lead collaborative efforts to take immediate steps and actions not only to ensure justice for the current affected girls but to implement an explicitly disseminated policy and long term measures on prevention and handling of ‘sexual’ cases in Schools.”
The statement proposed that the GES, PTA, Teacher Unions, NYA, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and other stakeholders consider the actions to address this canker such as instituting a nationwide investigation into this act to ascertain the gravity of the act and elicit context specific policy and strategies to safeguard all students.
It said this policy should be conscious of the critical role of guidance and counselling centres in protecting students.
It suggested the launching of a nationwide advocacy campaign detailing the ‘what to do strategies’ and guidelines for students from basic to tertiary schools. Publish in all Schools the “what to dos”.
Others are exploring the use of technology to address the issue.
It said beyond transfer of culprit-teachers, there was the need assign and implement stricter measures to address violation of codes of conduct for teachers and students especially relating to protection of children from torture and degrading treatments in sexual misconducts.
It said: “We draw inspiration from the fact that ‘schooling is the most common means by which societies prepare their young for the future’ and no child must be denied of such an opportunity’.
The CoGYF is an amalgamation of youth groups, youth-led organisation and youth oriented CSOs advocating for youth development and the establishment of the Ghana Youth Federation (GYF) as stipulated in the National Youth Authority ACT 2016 (ACT 939).