A decision was introduced by government to create separate schools for pregnant pupils in the country, in order to critically scrutinize the schooling system, as pregnant pupils were not allowed to sit in the same classes with their peers because they are seen as a negative influence.
“The decision is unfortunate and has the potential to increase the number of girls dropping out of school”, said a female teacher at Methodist Girls High School who pleaded for anonymity. According to her the decision had contrary opinion to the global education agenda.
The global education happened to be part of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals that make up the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development. It stated that there should be an inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Alternative classes have been offered to 'visibly pregnant' girls since country's schools reopened following Ebola crisis.
The government offered these pregnant girls the option of attending alternative schools with a reduced curriculum, but Amnesty International, a UK-based rights organisation, said denying pregnant girls mainstream education is a violation of their human rights.
“I am the one who should decide whether to go to the alternative or the mainstream school," said 17-year-old Sarah Bassie, an alternative school student.
A third of pregnancies in Sierra Leone are teenage pregnancies, according to Amnesty International official data.
“The decision doesn't address any of the root causes of teenage pregnancy such as addressing the high rates of sexual violence and abusive relationships that girls encounter every day in the country, said Sabrina Mahtani, an Amnesty International researcher.
According to her there was no formal sex education in schools.
However, according to the education ministry, the alternative school programme was currently working. But report established that out of 14,500 pupils who attended those schools, 5,000 had already gone back to mainstream school after giving birth.
The ministry referred to that as a tremendous progress because the affected girls would have most probably dropped out altogether because of the shame and stigma associated with teenage pregnancy.