The District Chief Executive for Jirapa, Christine Bonbanye Amadi, has disclosed that the menace of illegal mining activities otherwise known as galamsey is growing at an alarming rate in the area.She confessed that she feared the damage being caused by galamsey to the environment would reach an irreversible state if immediate steps were not taken to curb the menace.
Madam Christine disclosed this in a speech she read during the 61st Independence Day Anniversary of Ghana in Jirapa in the Upper West Region.
"There is a social canker in some of our communities in recent times which is the galamsey menace. To say the least, the destruction to the environment is massive and very worrying", she admitted.
Adding, she said those involved in the illicit activity "are mainly the youth" and appealed to the revered chiefs, opinion leaders, assembly members, security agencies and the citizenry to join the crusade against the galamsey activities or risk irreparable damages in the near future.
The District Director of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Ms. Rachael Dery, in her address also reiterated the destructive tendencies of galamsey activities in the district.
According to her, the galamsey activities were causing an increase in the number of school dropouts, particularly in the affected communities.
"The emergence of illegal mining activities in parts of the district is greatly affecting children's attendance to school, leading to loss of contact hours. Some pupils have even dropped out of school to engage in the galamsey activities". Ms Dery lamented.
She appealed to "parents, teachers and the people to do everything possible to bring back such (dropouts) to school" while reminding the citizenry of "the importance of education to nation building".
Another challenge facing education in the Jirapa District is the imminent withdrawal of Pronet-North, an NGO, from the Complementary Basic Education Programme which was implemented years ago in the district.
According to the District Education Director, there would be dire consequences if the District Assembly and Central government did not step in to help the situation in the absence of the NGO.
Ms Dery said the CBE programme initiated by Pronet-North had benefited about 950 out-of-school children who have missed formal education completely.
She stated unequivocally that the programme would fail if no support comes after the withdrawal of Pronet-North this year.
The District Education Director, however, indicated that, despite the challenges facing the education sector, there had been some successes chalked, especially in the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).
"In 2015, we had 30.4 percentage pass, 2016, 34.3 percentage pass, and in 2017, we had 42.9 percentage pass. This had shown a slight improvement in the performance with a girl emerging as the best candidate with an aggregate of nine in 2017", she disclosed.
She expressed disquiet about the fact that over 50 percent of pupils still fail in the BECE, and urged all stakeholders in the education sector to team up and double their efforts to achieve a higher percentage pass in the coming years.
Another achievement she mentioned was the District being adjudged the National Second Best (Primary Education category) under the Best Teacher and School Awards programme in 2017.