News / Africa

Study Links Puberty Education, Attendance

A school classroom in the Asante region of Ghana (Jim Hecimovich for VOA).
A school classroom in the Asante region of Ghana (Jim Hecimovich for VOA).
Joe DeCapua
Helping African teenage girls deal with puberty has the added benefit of increasing their attendance at school. A new study in the journal PLOS ONE says simple, low-cost interventions can have long-term positive results.


Oxford University Professor Paul Montgomery led the study of 120 teenage girls in secondary schools in Ghana.

“Women are the driving force of economic development across Africa. And so it’s particularly important to do what you can to keep girls going to school,” he said.

The study showed that the bodily changes brought on by puberty had a monthly effect on school attendance.

“Girls, as they approach puberty and go through it, have a kind of cyclical pattern to their attendance, and that gradually their attendance tails off in the main. And it looked quite a lot like a menstrual pattern. And in contrast, of course, the boys didn’t,” he said.

Montgomery said there were several reasons for the attendance drop-off.

“Embarrassment was a big part of it, certainly, and that was reported by well over half the girls. But ignorance, I think, was a very big part of it, too, and [they] just didn’t know what they were doing.”

In the study, girls in one group received free sanitary pads and lessons on puberty. Their attendance increased by six days over a 65 day term. But the study showed that a second group who did not receive the pads, but did receive the lessons, had a similar increase after about five months. Researchers are not quite sure why yet. They’re hoping to find out in a much larger study now underway in Uganda that will last until 2015.

“So, we already know that education’s important. We know the pads are important. We know that both are important. And we’ll be able to separate out these key issues, and then be able to give some really strong advice for development officers as far as sub-Saharan Africa is concerned,” he said.

The Ghana study showed that teenage girls who did not receive any intervention showed no improvement in school attendance.

Montgomery described the implications of the study as profound.

“I think one of the things menstruation does is that it signals the onset of the girl transitioning into womanhood. And that in turn, I think, sets them up to get pregnant. So I think we’ll be able to help reduce the onset of teen pregnancy, improve their entering the labor market and the economic development of those women,” he said.

He said other research has shown that ensuring education for girls helps lower a country’s population growth, which can contribute to “economic well-being and social stability.”

Montgomery added that African governments have been very receptive to the study’s findings and want to implement the recommendations. Without donor funding, however, the cost would come from either the health or education budget. The Oxford professor said some of the cost could be covered by sanitary pad manufacturers from profits they make in countries such as the United States.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs