NGO says 1m pupils miss school daily due to lack of access to sanitary pad

An NGO, Hope and Dreams Initiative (HDI) says statistics show that one million pupils miss school every day because of lack of access to sanitary pad.

Mrs Nguzo Ogbodo, the Founder of the organisation was speaking during the donation of some educational materials to schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Abuja on Monday.

The organisation was also sensitising pupils on the importance of menstrual hygiene in schools and its environs.

“Statistically, UNICEF said that one million pupils miss school every day because they don’t have access to sanitary pad and it is not just the sanitary pad but also wash facilities.

“When they don’t have access to toilets and hand washing basin, whether you have the product or not you are still not clean,’’ she said.

According to her, there is need for stakeholders to get involved by providing the basic things that will enable children remain in school.

“Globally, May was International Hygiene month and the reason why we choose menstrual hygiene is to create awareness of the importance of educating girls about the plight that young girls all over the world are going through because of non-access to sanitary pad.

“So that is what Hope and Dreams Initiative is doing in all the schools. We are working by providing girls with sanitary pads, creating libraries in schools, building toilets, building hand washing stations.

“And our aim is to ensure that one child that leaves the school did not only learn how to read but there should be behavioural change in the child.”

Ogbodo therefore called on the Federal Government to get actively involved in ensuring that every female student, apart from getting free education also had access to sanitary materials to aid their learning.

She also appealed to the government to improve more on the security apparatus of the country so that children would be safe in schools.

“I am also calling on the government because non-governmental organisations cannot do all the work, so I am calling on the government to get involved,’’ she said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NGO also donated a WASH library to the Local Education Authority (LEA) School in Aleyita for both the students of the school and the residents of the community.

Mr Jonathan Mazawaje, one of the community dwellers commended the organisation for donating school library, saying that the facility had been put into effective use.

“The library is very effective and the children are making use of it wisely and there have been changes in the performance of those who have been going to the library,” he said.

Some of the students, who spoke with NAN, thanked the organisers for bringing awareness of safe menstrual hygiene to the doorstep of the school, saying many students were not knowledgeable about it.

Mary Audu, a 12-year-old pupil of LEA Primary School, Goza, who started menstruating at age 11, said she was unable to cope with her studies during her menstrual period.

“I sleep in class when I am in my period and when my teacher asks why I am sleeping, I will say I am having stomach pain,’’ she said.

Also, Josephine Sunday, a 15 year-old pupil of LEA Aleyita said she was sensitised about menstrual hygiene by the organisation when the NGO visited the school.

Sunday, who said that she sometimes felt pain in class during her period, noted that she was however able to cope with the help of her teachers.

Schools which participated in the sensitisation are LEA Primary School in Aleyita, Goza, Chika, Kapwa, Kuchingoro and Piwoyi. (NAN)