Source: All Africa
The largest gains in primary school completion over the past decade were observed among girls, while secondary education remains a challenge for adolescent girls in many regions, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia, says the governor of West Coast Region, Aminata Sifaye Hydara.

This she said is now a challenge and concern as more than one in every three students across the Sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia who started primary school in 2011 will not make it to the last grade.

Governor Hydara made these disclosures on Sunday morning on behalf of Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, the vice president and minister of Women's Affair, at the 2014 World Population Day celebration held at the Governor's Office, Brikama, West Coast Region, on the theme, 'Investing in Young People'.

She revealed that worldwide 69 million adolescents of lower secondary school age currently remain out of school, sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia having the highest rates of early school dropout.

As recently reported in UNFPA's reports, the Governor indicated, a proportion of the global population, between ages 10 and 24, accounted for 28% in 2010, slightly higher than in Asia, and more than 31% of the population of Africa. These proportions, she said, will decline in most regions in the coming 25 years and it will remain above 20% in all regions except Europe until 2035 and above 30% until 2035 in Africa.

Hydara went on to report that an estimated 515 million adolescents and youth aged 15 to 24 live on less than $2 a day as 5 million face increased deprivation because of gender discrimination, disability and other forms of marginalization.

"For many adolescents particularly girls, school may be an unsafe place. Due to school-based, gender-based violence, girls may be pulled from school to be married and after marriage young girl's access to formal and even informal education is severely limited due to some reasons.

As pregnancy and childbirth become the leading cause of death among adolescent girls 15 to 19 in low and middle-income countries as coerced sex, reported by 10% of girls who first had sex before 15, contributes to unwanted adolescent pregnancies. Worldwide, more than 15 million girls aged 15 to 19 give birth every year. Pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among adolescent girls 15 to 19 in low and middle-income countries," she disclosed.

Despite the near-universal commitments to end child marriage, the Governor stated that one in three girls in developing countries would probably be married before they are 18.

She said that one out of nine girls will be married before their 15th birthday, while most of these girls are poor, less educated, and living in rural areas. The leading cause of death and illnesses among girls and young women aged 15 to 24 in these countries, she added, are complications of pregnancy, unsafe abortion and childbirth.

On health wise, Governor Hydara stated that more than 2 million adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 are living with HIV and about one-seventh of all new HIV infections occur during adolescence, while 50 young people are infected with HIV every single hour in the East and Southern Africa Regions.

The governor however said according to the 2003 population census, the Gambian population is youthful with nearly 42% of the population under the age of 15 and 22% aged between 15 and 24 years.

According to her, this significant proportion of the population has special needs and requirements, which must, as far as possible, be met in order to reap the future demographic dividend.

She conveyed the authorities' appreciation to the UNFPA, UNICEF, UNDP and other development partners that are working in the area of population and development and commended them for their continued and reassuring support in addressing population and development issues.

The celebration was attended by large number of dignitaries, different associations, and school children across WCR among others.

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