Education - The Sure Way Forward For all Children!
It is the hope of many youngsters to become self actualized and responsible adults. But for many children in Ghana and other parts of Africa,this hope could be a mirage. The situation in which they find themselves do not just allow them to have the quality education and health care every child needs to develop.
A visit to Gemeni in the Volta region revealed the kind of hardship some children go through. As I stood by the Volta lake, which was boarded by mountains, in Gemeni,and watched children go on their usual fishing expeditions, it was clear that most of them have been trafficked and brought here to work.
Master Holy, a 17year old fisher folk narrated how his parents gave him out to traffickers in exchange for money. Holy revealed how some children were killed and used as baits to get more fishes in the Volta lake. "I am happy that my parents are dead. They would have renewed my contract and collected monthly salaries from those i stay with,if they were alive", Holy added.
Children with great ambitions in Akutuasi in the Central region had to be on cocoa farms as their parents wished because that was the main source of income for their families. The situation in James town,a suburb of Accra,was no different. I was amazed with what I saw right in the heart of the capital city-Teenage pregnancy,children in fishing,drug abuse,school drop outs and poor sanitation. Despite the introduction of certain educational policies like the Capital grant, and School Feeding programme by the government,some children in Jamestown were still out of school. Parents claimed they had no money for the up-keep of their families, citing unemployment as a factor.
Ghana was the first country to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990. Article 28 and 29 of it require that children have access to quality education and must benefit from school work. From the situation narrated, it is clear that enjoyment of those rights are out of reach from some children in Gemeni, Akutuasi and Jamestown. Innocent children keep on facing hardship mainly because some parents and other stakeholders are not giving out their utmost best.
It really feels good to have the Children's Act 560, the Juvenile Justice Act, the Human Trafficking Act and other related laws in place as means to ensure the best interest of children. But it would be better to have them implemented than left on the shelves to be covered with dust.
It is good that the Accra Metropolitan Assembly(AMA) has abolished the school shift system in the Accra Metropolis to ensure regular attendance at school and an increase in school hours. This should be replicated in other regions, with more focus on infrastructural development,classes held under trees,provision of teaching materials and teacher motivation.
Gone are the days when physical assets were left behind for children as inheritance. The best legacy,a parent can give to his or her child in this 21st century is education. Skills and knowledge acquisition through education will make individuals make rational choices,get descent job and become successful in life.
Every child counts! Education is a right and not a privilege.
© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-2384/Giacomo Pirozzi Mali, 2009 A girl touches her school supplies in a UNICEF-supported child-friendly primary school in the rural village of Guivagou, in Mopti Region. These supplies include a slate, a piece of chalk, a thin notebook, a pen and a bundle of sticks. A small piece of bread rests on her notebook.