Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Puberty is said to be a sensitive and delicate period of a person’s life during which their sexual organs develop and they are capable of having children.
This period, if not properly managed through guidance and counselling by parents and school teachers, could result in early childhood complications such as masturbation, teenage pregnancy, teenage motherhood, fatherhood resulting from rape, sexual ignorance and the like.
To this end, the management of adolescence among secondary school girls in Anambra state becomes pertinent as most of the teenagers find it difficult to discuss their puberty cum menstrual cycle with their parents and guardians. As a result, they see their menstrual flow and other biological changes in their body as little secrets they should keep away from their parents and guardians.
The above scenario has culminated into many a teenage girl lacking sex education and becoming victims of early childhood pregnancy leading to a decline in girl child education in Anambra state.
It was in a bid to address the communication lacuna in the sex education of the girl child, that the European Union (EU), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Anambra State Government joined forces to intervene through the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene programme in schools to educate them on menstrual hygiene management.
The intervention however ushered in an attitudinal change among secondary school girls as most of them became confident and courageous enough to discuss some biological changes in their bodies with their teachers in school and obtain useful advice regarding how to handle their puberty stage especially as it concerns managing their menstrual flow hygienically.
UNICEF WASH specialist Mainga Moon Banda who spoke at a two-day media dialogue on “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene organised by The Child Rights Information Bureau of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with the UNICEF and supported by the European Union, held at Trig-Point hotel Awka, noted that the EU/UNICEF WASH advocacy programme has instilled the culture of basic hygiene practices and sanitation in various schools in Anambra state.
Banda opined that as panacea to menstrual hygiene, there was need for handwashing facilities by the school latrine to enable female students to access those places adding that through the WASH programme school children especially their female counterparts now have self-esteem as they receive counselling on menstrual hygiene management leading to increase in female enrolment in schools.
Meanwhile, the Programme Manager of the Anambra State Rural Water and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA) Mr.Victor Ezekwo who also spoke on the Anambra state water sector, said the state government was rehabilitating all water schemes in the state to ensure access to water supply.
The RUWASSA programme manager noted that schools in the state currently access water facilities to ensure the implementation of the EU/UNICEF WASH programme in schools stressing that the state government was proactive in ensuring basic hygiene practice and sanitation in the state especially primary and secondary schools where vulnerability was on the high side.