IMPORVING REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH KNOWLEDGE AMONG TEENAGE GIRLS IN CAMEROON
The center For Advocacy In Gender Equality and Action For Development (CAGEAD) A Not For profit making organization in Cameroon with a passion to empower girls, women , youth and promote gender equality , did some fact findings in a few secondary schools in the town of Bamenda, and realized that many young girls had dropped out of school because of pregnancy and were not as performant as compared to the boys because of inadequate knowledge on comprehensive sex education, menstrual hygiene absence from classes and the lack of communication flow between their parents on sex education back at home. To this effect, CAGEAD deemed it necessary to carry out a training aimed at improving reproductive health knowledge of these teenage girls as a way to empower them, educate their parents and improve on their performances in school. Adolescent girls from the ages of 15 to 18 were identified from three high schools in the town of Bamenda, respectively from Government Bilingual High School(G.B.H.S) Ateila, G.B.H.S Bayelle and Saint Micheal Academy of Arts and Science(SMASA)
When CAGEAD carried out studies in these schools and noticed some of the challenges faced by these adolescent girls at home, in school and in the community, which affected their academic performances , this organization decided to put down a project proposal aimed at addressing these problems under the sponsorship of The Pollination Project of USA as a seed grant. This training lasted for six months and about ninety young girls were trained on life-skills, the functioning of the female reproductive system, coping with peer pressure, improving on menstrual hygiene, comprehensive sex education and rights, overcoming forms of gender based violence and personal development . CAGEAD often attended the Parent Teachers Association (P.T.A) meetings of these schools and used those platforms to educate and encourage parents to dialogue often with their children on sex education at home. As time went on, some parents realized that they needed to provide the basic needs of their daughters like sanitary pads which helps during menstruation because their children who were often afraid to tell them about their menses, but rather indicated that they were ill, missed a lot of classes. The parents took upon themselves to provide these basic needs for their girl children and this made the girls to attend school regularly .
Two months after the training, the CAGEAD TEAM moved to these schools to know if their efforts were worth -while and had created any impact. To their amazement, positive testimonies were registered from school authorities ,the parents and the children . The school authorities testified that after the training on improving reproductive health knowledge among teenage girls, the rate of teenage pregnancies and school drop outs had reduced drastically, self awareness had been created , outstanding performances recorded, and they noticed an improved relationship between the girls and their teachers which was positive and which boasted the image of the schools . From the PTA meetings, some parents were happy because they opened up and dialogued with their children on sex education which also helped them improve their relationship with the children at home. On the part of the girls trained under The Pollination Project, they were thankful to have gained valuable skills that armed them to live healthily, make informed choices and to inspire change as well.