If you’re pregnant, you can’t attend school in Sierra Leone - with one exception. Will the law change in November so that all girls have a chance to continue their education?
“Even though I was pregnant, I still wanted to continue studying,” says Mariatu Sesay, a 15-year-old mother. Sesay was afraid to go to school during her pregnancy because of the government ban on pregnant girls attending classes.
“I love school. That's what made me want to continue,” Sesay continues. “When I showed up people would ridicule me, but I summoned the courage."
Sesay owes her ability to continue her education mainly to the protection of her school’s principal. "I violated the law of the government,” Eric Conteh says. “The current minister said we should actually ban children who are pregnant..."
Lower Dibia Secondary School is the only known school in Sierra Leone that permits pregnant girls to continue their education.
TRT World’s Sharon Ogunleye has more.
Another teenager whose name has been changed for her protection says she was kicked out of school as well as her parents’ home.
“I want the world to know that just because someone falls pregnant, it doesn’t mean their life is over, or they can’t continue their education,” Rose says. “Everyone makes mistakes.”
Rose hopes that the government ban on pregnant girls attending schools is overturned so she can fulfil her dream of becoming a journalist.
The government justifies the ban by saying it protects pregnant girls from peer ridicule and prevents further teen pregnancies by discouraging other students from becoming pregnant.
There are separate study centres for pregnant girls to attend classes. Yet rights groups say this practice stigmatises young girls and demand the ban be lifted.
The court ruling on this controversy is expected in November, as young girls across Sierra Leone hope to continue their education without being penalised for becoming pregnant.