Hellen Abla Avevor, headmistress of St. Catherine Senior High School in the Diocese of Keta-Akatsi, Ghana, center left, walks with other dignitaries during the decade celebration of the school Oct.19, 2019. Avevor commended the Catholic Church for its contribution to girls’ education through the establishment of numerous girls’ institutions across the country and called on stakeholders to prioritize girls’ education in the country.(CNS photo/Damian Avevor)

AGBAKOPE, Ghana (CNS) — A Ghanaian government official used a Catholic girls’ school celebration to emphasize the need to educate girls as well as boys.

“The education of boys has always taken precedence over that of girls, and we normally use social and cultural misconceptions to discriminate against girls in terms of educational access,” Benedicta Tenni Seidu, director of girls’ education at the Ghana Education Service, told the audience at a public reception to end the decade anniversary of St. Catherine School.

Even though the situation has improved and “more parents are now educating their girls, there still exist some levels of prejudice against the education of girls” in parts of Ghana and in developing countries, said Seidu, a Catholic.

Although slightly more than half of Ghana is female, in 2017, female enrollment in colleges and universities was 13.53 percent, compared to 18.68 percent for males.

In the past one of the many reasons given for girls missing out on education was that they could not be in school during their menstrual cycles.

But Seidu told the audience of bishops, traditional leaders and influencers “with modernity and changes in time, the reasons cited previously for denying girls educational access are fortunately no longer tenable today. Girls’ education is very important, that is why the Girls’ Education Unit was established in 1997 to promote the education of girls and also work to eradicate barriers to their education.”

She, therefore, called on Ghanaians, especially women, to join in the advocacy to help girls discover their potential, quoting the famous Ghanaian statesman, James Kwegyir Aggrey, “If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.”

“The development of this country is inextricably tied to the education of the girl child, and it is only when we educate our girls that we can successfully fight poverty in this country and our homes, because of correlation between education and productivity,” Seidu said.

The Catholic Church in Ghana has established many girls secondary schools in all its dioceses.

Hellen Abla Avevor, headmistress of the St. Catherine School, commended the Catholic Church for its contribution to girls’ education through the establishment of numerous girls’ institutions across the country and called on stakeholders to prioritize girls’ education in the country.

She praised retired Bishop Anthony Kwami Adanuty of Keta-Akatsi for his vision of establishing a girls’ boarding high school 10 years ago.