Last month, the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) instructed Sierra Leone to immediately revoke a 2015 policy that bans pregnant girls from studying in public schools.
The court held that the policy is discriminatory and violates the right to education.
The court also ruled that Sierra Leone’s exclusive schools for pregnant girls – where learners attend school three times a week, learn only four subjects, and are all taught in a single class together regardless of age and academic achievement – are discriminatory and violate girls’ right to equal education.
It ordered the government to take action to reduce stigma against pregnant girls and to integrate sexual and reproductive health education into school curricula. A group of non-governmental organizations brought the case before the regional court.
The ECOWAS Court of Justice ruling is the latest in a positive trend in the region toward recognizing the right of all girls—including pregnant, parenting, and married girls–to education.
African governments have committed to inclusive education for all through the United NationsSustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include, by 2030, that governments will “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” This includes a commitment to eliminate gender disparities in education.