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Regional News of Monday, 15 February 2016

Source: GNA

School enrollment up in cocoa growing areas

Enrolment in basic schools in some cocoa growing areas in the country has increased in the past five years.

Community basic schools in the areas also increased within the same period.

This came to light when the Ghana News Agency (GNA) toured selected cocoa growing areas in the Western, Ashanti and Central regions, where some pupils learn under cocoa trees due to large numbers.

At the Hintado District Assembly Primary School, pupils’ enrolment rose from 15 in 2012 to 150 in 2015/2016 academic year, with a good number of them rescued from working on cocoa farms and enrolled in the school by the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI).

Ms Dora Asantewaa, Headmistress of the school, told the GNA that due to the high numbers, the pupils struggled for tables and chairs daily.

She said the soaring numbers against inadequate infrastructure necessitated the holding of classes for some pupils under cocoa trees.

She said four Chinese mining companies bought concessions, a few meters away from the school with their activities distracting teaching and learning.

At Abeneso, also in the Wasa Amenfi East District, pupils’ enrolment went up from 38 in 2007 to 160 in 2016.

There are about 80 pupils in kindergarten one and two, crowded in a structure provided by the ICI.

In that community, children as young as seven years reportedly ride bicycles some three and four kilometres through cocoa farms to school daily.

The high number of pupils at New Aboi Primary School is attributed to the resolution of cocoa farmers there to desist from engaging their children on the farm and hire adult labourers at 10 Ghana cedis a day, to keep their children in school.

Nana Kwadwo Tieku II, Chief of the Community and a retired Educationist, said interventions by the ICI were helping to keep the children in school.

“ICI has helped us a lot. Now children do not engage in hazardous work on the farms,” he said.

Owusukrom Basic School in the Adansi South District in the Ashanti Region currently has 149 pupil enrolment, from 98 in 2012.

Mr Emmanuel Amoah, Head Teacher of the school, said Community Child Protection Committee set up by ICI was helping to rescue children from “galamsey” sites and cocoa farms.

He said a three-unit classroom block with office, store and furniture provided by ICI were also making schooling more appealing to the children.

ICI is leading the promotion of child protection in cocoa growing communities in Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire.

The organisation works with the cocoa industry, civil society, farmers’ organisations, international organisations and governments of cocoa producing countries to ensure a better future for children and to contribute to the elimination of child labour.

Since 2007, ICI had supported the acceleration of child-centred community development projects including construction of classroom blocks, water projects, and income generating activities for cocoa farmers and their wives in Ghana.