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General News of Saturday, 9 February 2008

Source: GNA

Poverty keeps Ghanaian children out of school

Accra, Feb. 9, GNA - Six young reporters campaigning on 'Quality Education for all children' a UNICEF project, on Saturday said poverty and parental irresponsibility among other things were reasons why many children did not go to school.

The young reporters aged between 10 and 17, sharing their experiences and challenges faced by Ghanaian children in an interview on a local radio station in Accra said during their campaign, it was realized that many children did not go to school because their parents could not provide them with basic educational materials, such as school uniforms, exercise books, bags and pens.

They disclosed that, some children they interviewed engaged in different kinds of trade such as selling iced water, plantain chips and bread rather than going to school because they had to support their mother's who were mostly single parents, adding that some father's of the children were irresponsible especially for their education. The young reporters were, Sandra Nyarko, Samuel Tronu, Stephen Iseh, Edith Asamani, Sophia Kuyoli and Miata Kuyichiana. The project is a special partnership between UNICEF and young reporters as part of the ongoing quality education awareness campaign conducted in collaboration with the confederation of African Football (CAF) using the tournament to hammer home the message of quality education for all Ghanaian children.

According to them, some children said their parents did not see the importance of education, hence keeping them at home, while some unfortunate children were orphans who could not afford formal education. Miata Kuyichiana, said some pupils walked about two hours every day to school while others went on empty stomach, saying, "these things affect the quality of education since most of them miss early morning lessons and perform poorly at school".

The emotional Sandra Nyarko did not understand why children in Ghana did not have equal opportunities to quality education, adding that the government should help provide quality educational facilities in all schools because children in the rural areas, especially lacked furniture and classrooms for quality education.

Stephen Iseh, said using the African Cup of Nations season for the campaign was a laudable idea because he believed the campaign message will sink well since many children liked football. He said some children at the Street Academy in Accra (a school for street children) told him during an interview that the owner of the school used football as a platform to get them enroll in the school. The young reporters urged parents to give quality education to their children, adding, "a child without quality education was like a child in the dark."

The reporters said among the challenges they faced during interviews was, language barrier because most of the children could not speak English; some children refusing to talk fearing their parents will discipline them if they did, while others did not open up to them because they did not know the exact reasons for the interview. Peter De Vries, Chief of Education-UNICEF, said the quality education for all children campaign was organized during CAN 2008, because sports was important in the life of children for psychosocial development, good health and togetherness which build children into the future.

He said the project was targeted at quality education for children in Ghana because many children still did not go to school while those at school lacked quality education for a brighter future. Peter De Vries said, UNICEF was prepared to create the platform for the children but the greater responsibility lied on the shoulders of everyone.

Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, United Nations Children's Fund Representative, said to help children go to school and also have quality education, there was the need to know what was keeping them out of school, the challenges they faced and how best to solve such problems. She said the best way to get children open-up was to use people they could easily share their problems with hence the use of the young reporters to educate, influence and campaign for quality education.

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