3 students debarred from writing examination (May 28, 2016)

Three student nurses of the Mampong Nurses and Midwifery Training School in the Ashanti Region, including a married woman, have been denied the right to register and write their licensure examinations because they are pregnant. 

Although two of them have been delivered of their babies, the school authorities have refused to allow them to write the examination because of a rule that has long been scrapped by the Ministry of Health.

Human Rights Lawyer, Mr Francis-Xavier Sosu, whose law firm, F-X Law & Associates, has taken up the case, yesterday filed a petition for an intervention at the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) in Accra.

“I want an immediate intervention to ensure that the students register and write their licensure examinations,” he told the Daily Graphic.

He said it was not too late for the authorities to intervene because the registration was still open.

Discriminatory
Mr Sosu, who described the action as very discriminatory, said “all attempts to get the women registered have proved futile.”

He also said the affected students finished their end-of-year examination two weeks ago and all of them had passed and were qualified to write the licensure exams organised by the Nurses and Midwifery Council, but the school had refused to allow them to do so on the grounds that they were pregnant.

Ironically, Mr Sosu indicated, although two of the students had been delivered of their babies and were strong enough to write the examination, the school was adamant.

 “One of them picked the registration form and registered but her registration form was removed from the forms that were to be submitted to the Nurses and Midwifery Council (NMC).

He said the policy of denying pregnant women their right to write their licensure exams breached Articles 17(1) and 17(2) of the 1992 Constitution, which provided for equality before the law and made provisions against discrimination on the basis of gender.

Breach of the law

“It also breaches Article 12(1) and (2) of the 1992 Constitution and the United Nation's Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW),” he asserted.

The convention provides the basis for realising equality between women and men through ensuring women's equal access to, and equal opportunities in political and public life - including the right to vote and to stand for election - as well as education, health and employment.

Mr Sosu said he had contacted the school to change its decision but its Vice-Principal, Ms Mercy Kporku, said the school was following rules that were being applied everywhere.

The Daily Graphic’s attempt to get the school authorities’ reaction to the issue was fruitless as text messages and phone calls were not responded to.

Meanwhile, the Head of Public Relations and Communications of the CHRAJ, Mrs Comfort Akosua Edu, has confirmed that the commission has received Mr Sosu’s petition.
“It will be processed to the commissioner,” she told the Daily Graphic.

An official of the NMC, Nana Boateng-Agyeman, declined to speak to the issue but said the council had no control over the issue.

“It is only the school that has the right to present students that they think have adequately prepared to write the examination.”

The past
Junior and senior high schools and teacher training colleges used to prevent pregnant students from writing examinations but in recent times, there has been a shift from that position and students in JHS are allowed to write their examinations even when they are pregnant.

In July 2013, St Monica’s College of Education in Ashanti Mampong did not allow five pregnant students who were in their third year to write their examinations. 

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