Tema, May 19, GNA - As a journalist, every year when the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) is underway, and I have to go round to the centres to report, one unconscious thing I always do is looking out for pregnant girls sitting for the examination.
I have had the opportunity of seeing a few of them showing their growing bumps in school uniforms comfortably mingling with their mates before or after writing a paper without any problems.
Several news reports from across the country during such examinations have shown that quite a sizable number of adolescent girls wrote the exams with pregnancy.
The Ministry of Education over the years have served notice to exams supervisors not to prevent such girls who reported to their centres to write exams just because they were pregnant.
The story of a final year student of Gushiegu Midwifery School, Miss Cecelia Awuni, who was prevented by the school’s principal from writing her exams because she was four months pregnant was not only absurd but an affront to the dignity of women.
The married woman was said to have been sacked from the examination hall by the principal when she was about to write her fourth out of six papers and asked to report to the school next year to complete her course.
Even if she was not married, her right to consensual sex and pregnancy cannot be in doubt.
Miss Awuni is not the first or only nursing student who have faced such discrimination just because she was giving life to another human being, the report indicated that another student had to give birth through inducement just to be able to write the exams last year in Jirapa Midwifery School.
The question here is if pregnant adolescents in basic school have been given the right to write their examination without any interference from their supervisors how come that fully grown married women in a tertiary school should be punished for giving life to humanity?
The unfortunate part of the story that the Nursing and Midwifery Council admitted that there was no law preventing a pregnant woman from writing exams but the decision was in the interest of the student as she may lack the capacity to effectively participate in all the activities.
The strong arm of irony keeps a firm grip on the situation considering the fact that as a midwifery school, training midwives who would be expected to give the needed medical attention to pregnant women, which medical examinations did they do on the student to determine whether she was medically fit to sit for the exams or not.
If other tertiary institutions in Ghana allow their expectant students to sit for their exams even in their 40th week of pregnancy, what makes the case of the midwifery school different or special that they have resorted to punishing our sisters unduly.
I remember an orientation session organized for fresh students of the University of Ghana some years back when we were informed that mothers who deliver during exams and are on admission at the Legon Hospital would be allowed to write the exams at the hospital while on admission, after all, pregnancy they say is not a disease but a medical condition.
With this assurance in mind, a number of the female students especially the married ones, did not allow their quest to obtain higher education hinder them from fulfilling their God given role of getting pregnant and giving life to others.
It was interesting to see different sizes of baby bumps moving to and fro lecture and exams halls, while some had to show up on campus with nannies and grandmothers to take care of their babies while they write exams.
I wonder what would have happened to all these mothers and their babies if they had decided to school in one of those midwifery schools instead of UG and the other institutions that encouraged them to succeed.
As a worker, a wife and a student, studying at UG has its own frustrations but I must say, the institution made it possible for us to successfully carry two pregnancies during our studies there, even to the extent to a point where lecturers would see you on campus and cheer you up with encouraging words.
Some students especially, the men even believed that pregnant women always passed their exams because they had two brains. I am however yet to find a scientific proof for that.
It is about time that the relevant authorities in charge of ensuring that our sisters in the midwifery schools and other tertiary institutions received the best training in their chosen profession, put in measures to allow them to comfortably write their exams without such interferences.
If the student does not have any medical condition that would put her in the wrong frame of mind to write an examination but has prepared to write, they must not be prevented and embarrassed just because they are pregnant. Doing so infringes on their fundamental human rights.
Let us encourage our women to aim higher and go all out to achieve their dreams no matter the circumstances they find themselves, putting such impediments on their way would not auger well for the country.