A research conducted by the Asutifi District Directorate of Education has revealed that small-scale illegal mining has affected the performance and attendance of pupils and students in primary and junior high schools in the area.
The research was conducted from 2008 to 2011.
Mr Darko Mensah, acting Director of Inspectorate at the Ghana Education Service (GES) said this in a report he presented at a children’s education forum on the effects of small-scale illegal mining on education at Kenyase, in the Brong-Ahafo Region.
He disclosed that before the operations of Newmont Ghana Gold Company in the area, the performance and attendance of school children were very high, “but for the love of money the students leave the classroom to prospect for gold at “galamsey” sites.”
The forum, attended by school children, students, religious groups, heads of department, non-governmental organizations, traditional authorities and Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), was jointly organised by Action Aid Ghana and Centre for Maternal Health and Community Empowerment.
It had the theme “Galamsey and Education: the way forward”.
Mr Mensah said in one of the schools that the research was conducted, in the year 2008, seven out of 14 students, who sat for the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE), passed and gained admission into Senior High Schools but in 2011 out of 44 students who sat for the examination only five passed.
The research also revealed that students who have registered to write this year’s examinations refused to write the Mock exams and also exempted themselves from school to engage in “galamsey” activities.
Mr Mensah said primary school children “are also sent to the “galamsey” sites by their parents to sell ice water or to assist in taking care of their younger siblings whilst some of the boys also engaged in “Okada” operations, transporting people to and from the sites.
He noted that the galamsey activities were taking most of the students from the classroom and if care was not taken it would have serious repercussions on the children’s education.
Madam Christiana Amarchey, Regional Programme Officer of ActionAid Ghana, stated that basic literacy numeracy skills were the basic fundamental tools that prepared children to take hold of their lives and to develop solutions adapted to the needs of the community.
She said basic quality education provided pupils with access to health and nutrition information for themselves and their families and also provided a safe place for them to grow up.
The Regional Programme Officer noted that education delayed marriage and teenage pregnancy, especially girls, thereby lowering infant and maternal mortality, adding, ActionAid Ghana aimed at providing access and quality education for every child.
Madam Amarchey called on the Assembly to lead in strengthening efforts to reverse the worrying trend of increasing number of school children getting involved in mining activities at the expense of their education.
Children at a group work appealed to parents to support them with the necessary learning materials and to encourage them to be in school and to be serious with their studies.
They explained that most of their parents were not responsible and did not care about their children’s education and rather spent their resources on social activities, notably funerals and on clothing.**