Ghana's efforts in the fight against ‘child labour’ in cocoa growing communities have received a major boost with the construction of four school building projects by a partnership between Care International and General Mills.
The four school projects, each consisting of a two-unit classroom block, office and store, and other ancillary facilities worth a total of GH 466,000.
They will serve over 260 pupils from six neighbouring communities in the Central Region, namely, Sunkwa, Aniehu, Bonsunyina, Abotia and Asare Kwaa.
In addition, Care International has furnished all classrooms with a total of140 dual desks as well as teachers’ tables and chairs, to facilitate teaching and learning.
The building projects completed within three years have been lauded by the chiefs and people in the area considering the deteriorating nature of the existing school structures and the lack of some basic educational infrastructure in the area.
Care International’s support to these communities was complemented by the active participation of chiefs and other community leaders, community members, as well as the District Assembly.
Hitherto, children from adjoining cocoa growing communities in the Asikuma Odobeng Brakwa District had to walk more than two kilometres before accessing education.
The situation made many students drop out of school to follow their parents to their cocoa farms while many girls in the area became teenage mothers.
Speaking at the ceremony to hand the keys of the newly constructed school projects to the headteachers of the 4 schools, Dr. Theophilus Nkansah, Team leader/ Project Manager of Care International, expressed optimism that the project would help put smiles on the faces of many parents and educational authorities.
“Educational infrastructure remains a big challenge in rural communities across the country and our aim is to improve school infrastructure in rural communities especially in cocoa growing communities where the issue of child labour is rife,” he indicated.
In a speech read on his behalf of the country Director of Care International in Ghana by Mr. Richard Oppong, HR/Administration Director, and Mr. Elkanah Odembo said due to the involvement of children in farming as well as the limited access to education in the area, the organization moved in to save the situation.
“We believe that education is a shared responsibility between government, represented by the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service, community leaders and members, as well as development agencies. We are indeed happy that we’ve been able to make it. By this, we have cultivated into the future of these young ones,” he noted.
The Asikuma Odobeng Brakwa District, earlier this year experienced one of the most tragic happenings in the educational history of the country when a dilapidated Kindergarten schoolblock collapsed and killed six KG pupils at Breman Gyamera.
District Chief Executive for Asikuma Odobeng Brakwa, Isaac Odoom, who couldn’t hide his excitement at the gesture by the NGO, thanked the Care International and General Mills partnership for lessening the burden of the Assembly to provide educational infrastructure and urged the school's management committees to ensure that the facilities were properly maintained.
“We made a lot of interventions after the school block collapsed and killed the six kindergarten school children. Most of the schools heredo not have well-structured KG blocks heightening our fears. We are encouraging more organizations to come to our aid,” he stressed.
After a successful presence country review in May 2015, Care International in Ghana strategized to extend its impact under three pragmatic areas of socio-economic empowerment, food and nutrition security and strengthening the capacity of civil society organizations, with women and youth aged between 15 and 35 years being their key targets.
Care international, one of the world’s leading humanitarian and development organizations fighting global poverty and defending the dignity of people around the world since its inception in 1945.
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