The Optimized After 24 Years before Marriage Project has an activity that seeks to gather real time information on children’s education in the target communities. This is to enable the project team better understand the situation in the communities and to fine – tune the activities on the project to suit the needs available.
WUZDA Ghana has been implementing the Child Marriage Project “Optimized After 24 Years – Policy Prioritization as a Factor” from January, 2021, which is a scale up of the A24Y Project. This project is being implemented in the Tamale Metropolis and Sagnarigu Municipality in the Northern Region and the North East District in the Savannah Region.
The data collection exercise was only carried out in the North East District of the Savannah Region, because it is a new addition to the target areas in the project.
After the data collection exercise, there was the need to gather all stakeholders under one umbrella to discuss and find the way forward to solving them.
Jentong – Fushila and Dakpemyili are the two main communities that are direct beneficiaries of the project in the Savannah Region.
The Dialogue on creating awareness on the promotion of education of the child, brought together key stakeholders in education in the district, including the District Director of Education who spoke about policy and how it affects children in the rural areas. The Coordinating Director of the district was also represented, whose representative responded to issues of educational infrastructure and the plans of the government for the area.
Opening the dialogue forum for discussions to begin, Program Manager for WUZDA Ghana, Mr. Abdul Karim Ziblim reminded the stakeholders present that the main objective of the A24Y Project, which has now given birth to the “Optimized After 24 Years – Policy Prioritization as a Factor”, was to ensure that the girl child only gets married to a man of her choice after 24 years, when she would have either completed school to an established level, or completed a skill training of her choice, putting her in the best position to make a choice of how she wants her family to be like.
Mr. Karim added that the scaled up project aims at using dialogue with parents, PTAs, opinion leaders, government agencies and the District Assembly etc., with the expectation of identifying the challenges in the education sector, for which reason the rural areas have low numbers of enrolment and performance.
Highlighting some of the findings from the data gathered on child education in the two communities, Gender Desk Officer for WUZDA Ghana, Kaawie Felicia indicated that the data shows that many girls did not return when schools reopened, after the easing of the COVID – 19 restrictions, where the reasons are that some of them had travelled to look for money and others have been given out for marriage.
She added that according to the data, many of the young boys and girls are not originally in school and are not learning any skills to make them established in the future.
Miss Felicia said the data also found that the only school in the area has a toilet facility which is supposed to be used by the pupils and teachers, but the facility is in bad shape and not fit for purpose.
The Gender Desk Officer used the opportunity and based on the discouraging findings of the data collection to call on parents and guardians to pay more attention to the education of especially the girl child, since the girl child is more vulnerable and lacks the opportunity when it comes to education, particularly in the rural areas.
Chairman for the program and Assemblyman for the Jentong Electoral Area, under which all the target communities fall, Inusah Hamzah Lansah, used himself as an example of results of ensuring children have good education.
He said if he had not been to school to the level he did, he could not have climbed to become the assemblyman for the area, neither would he have been identified by WUZDA Ghana to contribute to solving the problems of education in the communities, for which reason he has been made the chairman of this important session.
Hamzah Lansah therefore called on parents and guardians present, to encourage their colleagues who are not, to raise their efforts at ensuring their children and wards go to school and stay in school, since he knows if a parent is committed enough, they surely will be able to provide whatever there is the need for the child to stay in school.
Commenting on the need for parents and guardians to pay more attention to their children and wards education, a teacher of the school in the area said parents need to realize that they are those who own the children and have the utmost responsibility to cater for their educational needs.
She however added that the realities of the day also pose a challenges to the education in the area, calling on the government to reintroduce the Feeding Program to the school, because according to her, it contributes largely to the children’s coming to school and paying attention to learn, since some of the parents genuinely have challenges getting money for the children to go to feed while in school.
She also talked about the government’s school uniform policy which was helping the rural communities due to the low income levels of parents and guardians.
All stakeholders at the dialogue platform agreed that much as it is expected that government plays its role of crafting policies on education that favors children, parents, guardians and the larger society have a lot to do to make the child reach his or her full potential.
The “Optimized After 24 Years – Policy Prioritization as a Factor” is a year – long scale up project from the A24Y, and funded by Mundo Cooperante.