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Sierra Leone schools for pregnant students raise questions

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A government programme for separate schools for pregnant students introduced two years ago in Sierra Leone is facing critical scrutiny.

Pregnant students were not allowed to sit in the same class in the West African country as their peers because they are seen as a bad influence.

In April 2015, schools in Sierra Leone reopened after a nine-month break due to the Ebola crisis. However, “visibly pregnant” girls were banned from returning to school, for fear of negatively affecting “innocent girls”, according to the education minister.

The government offered them the option of attending alternative schools with a reduced curriculum.

Now, Amnesty International, the UK-based rights organisation, says 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 official data.

“It [the move] doesn’t address any of the root causes of teenage pregnancy in Sierra Leone

[Source: Al-Jazeera]
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