Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana

by Action against Child Exploitation (ACE)
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Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
The head of the Village making a speech
The head of the Village making a speech

On 9th March 2020, the new Child Labour Free Zone (CLFZ) system came into effect in Ghana. The system will be used to monitor, verify and certify that areas have eliminated child labour and have the mechanisms in place to continue to protect children from hazardous work, as well as safeguard other fundamental children’s rights. Eligible areas are to be certified as CLFZ and the system is set to be expanded nationwide.

The concept is not in itself new, however, until now there have never been standardised rules on how to determine an area as child labour-free, who has the authority to do so, and how it would be maintained. Ghana has now officially established the CLFZ system guidelines and incorporated them into their National Action Plan II. It is the first time a country has, as a nation, established and systematised specific operating rules in the fight against child labour. This is a key moment in history in the fight to protect children from hazardous forms of work. ACE collaborated with the Ghanaian government to provide our technical expertise and field experience running the SMILE Ghana project, in the formulation of these national guidelines.

Child labour arises from a combination of various problems meaning that resolving it is not a simple matter of building a school, for example, and as such the guidelines are complex and detailed. However, the fact that these guidelines are equal to institutionalisation, means that: "the stakeholders involved in child labour are no longer working separately, rather they are all working together to certify and expand the number of CLFZ areas and ultimately eliminate child labour from Ghana.”

 

Child Labour in Ghana

According to the most recent report on the state of child labour in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, there are 770,000 child labourers in Ghana as of 2018/2019 (University of Chicago 2020). 710,000 of those children are involved in dangerous work. This is definite progress compared to the last comprehensive report in 2015, in which there were a reported 920,000 child labourers. However, this means there are still over 700,000 children either being forced to work far away from their families, carrying cocoa fruits weighing more than 20 kilograms, performing dangerous tasks with sharp tools, and sometimes being trafficked for labour. These are called "the worst forms of child labour" and are robbing children of their future.

Of course, the Ghanaian government is not doing nothing. A number of efforts have been made to eliminate child labour  and work toward the achievement of SDG Goal 8.7, in particular, to "end all forms of child labour by 2025”. Back in 2017, the government announced their National Action Plan for the achievement of the SDG Target 8.7, and one of its strategies was to establish and disseminate the Child Labour Free Zone.

 

A closer look at the Child Labour Free Zone 

The system literally names an area as "child labour free." Does that really mean that, 1. There is no cases of child labour in the area, and 2. If an area is found to not have cases of child labour at a certain point in time it can be named child labour-free?

The simple answer to both questions is no. A certified CLFZ means an area is verified as having sustainable, comprehensive, and consistent interventions in place to protect children from dangerous work and ensure their rights and welfare. Just because an area does not have any cases of child labour does not make it child labour-free. Similarly, an area with several cases of child labour which has the mechanisms in place to address them should not be discounted. An area that has a well-functioning system in place to protect children from hazardous work and sustains a safe environment that enables them to live in peace of mind is a child labour free zone. 

 

The CLFZ system includes the operation of:

• A routine child labour monitoring system (at community & district level)

• A system that manages school enrolment and attendance (for compulsory education)

• A system that monitors workplaces and prevents children’s involvement in dangerous work 

• A system that cracks down on and tries illegal cases in accordance with the law

• Municipal institutions that provide financial support to vulnerable families and farmers

• Local government-level policies, yearly plans, and ordinances for the elimination of child labour

 

Only the Ghanaian government has the authority to grant the certification.

 

ACE activities contributed to the establishment of the Child Labour Free Zone system

In fact, the Child Labor Free Zone initiative was adopted following the collaboration of numerous stakeholders and in particular, ACE, the Ghanaian government, trade unions, and the ILO. Child labour is a problem involving numerous components including poverty, education, labour, human rights, health, agriculture, and business. Since child labour free zones involve a "region", it was often difficult for everyone from different political positions, such as the community, local government, and central government, to work together – even though it is necessary to fully address the problem. In spite of this, until now, NGOs and organisations have been working independently to eliminate child labour, and calling an area "child labour free" could mean many different things.The fact that Ghana has, as a country, overcome these difficulties and began institutionalising an approach to, and procedures for, realising the Child Labor Free Zone is an extremely momentous event.

With the cooperation of Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting, ACE worked for over a year and a half in 2018-2020 with the Ghanaian government, the ILO, the Ghanaian Agricultural Workers Union, and CRADA (our local partner of the Smile Ghana Project), to establish this system. The first National Stakeholder Dialogue (National Stakeholders' Meeting) was the first step in the process and saw the coming together of 80 people from various fields related to the cacao industry and child labour. However, at the event ACE Managing Director Tomoko Shiroki stressed that, "Many people from various different sectors have been working toward achieving the elimination of child labour, but efforts have not seen much success. After all, success cannot be realised without a national budget. A lot of people already know that. "

At the same time, our experience operating the Smile Ghana project has taught us the importance of involving the community in order to eliminate child labour in the area. We also know that, with some ingenuity, utilising existing local systems and strengthening corporation between stakeholders can produce results without a huge budget. Efforts such as reforming schools and PTAs, restoring trust in schools, supporting productivity improvement, supporting poor families, and addressing labour shortages must all come as a set package. On top of that, a support system for these communities, schools, and households at the smallest administrative unit - the District- is crucial. These were key lessons that ACE inputted in the creation of the Child Labour Free Zone system.

 

Creating the system is not the final goal

Since November 2018, ACE staff have gone to Ghana five times. During this time, the rules and procedures for realizing the Child Labour Free Zone were discussed in detail and carefully formulated. Finally, on March 9th, 2020, the official document, Establishing Child Labour Free Zones in Ghana: Protocols and Guidelines was completed. Now that the guidelines have been completed and have come into effect, all future activities to eliminate child labour in Ghana will be required to refer to these guidelines.

It was a very valuable experience for ACE to be involved in the creation of the national system for the first time. However, the establishment of the guidelines was not our final goal. The next step is to ensure the guidelines are implemented properly and the villages that have graduated from the Smile Ghana Project are soon set to be assessed and certified as Child Labor Free Zones. 

Our longer-term goal is that the Child Labour Free Zone is functioning nationwide, and Ghana is able to become a child labour-free country. The SMILE Ghana Project has been vital to working toward these long-term goals. Thank you to everyone who continues to support such important work.

 

County-level consultation meeting in July 2019
County-level consultation meeting in July 2019
At the National Conference in January 2020
At the National Conference in January 2020
The launch event was held in March 2020 in Ghana
The launch event was held in March 2020 in Ghana
The Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations
The Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations
The head of the Village making a speech
The head of the Village making a speech
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My name is Akira Kondo, and I am the Ghana Project Manager for ACE. Thank you so very much for supporting our efforts to end child exploitation in the world.

Covid-19's Impact on our Project Communities in Ghana

Lockdown measures were in place in targeted areas of Ghana from March 20th to April 20th; the area where our project is currently operating was not included and people were able to carry on as usual.

However, all schools are currently closed across the country, including in the project villages, and as of yet there is no prospect of them reopening any time soon. The Ghana Education Service (GES) announced that it will introduce online classes nationwide, but most of the households in the project area do not have internet access, and as such it will be difficult if not impossible for children in these communities to complete the school curriculum. We worry that this will affect their examination results and the ability to enter the next grade.

Children in the villages are predominately helping out at home and carrying out light activities on the farms, playing outside with friends, and playing soccer in the schoolyard. 

Current Status of Project Activities

The school closure means that the project’s Child Dignity Club is also suspended. This is unfortunate in itself but it also means that we are unable to get an update from teachers regarding the educational status of the children.

Fortunately, our agricultural training sessions and CCPC activities (Community Child Protection Committees formed by local volunteers) are still operating as usual. In addition, local administrative functions in the project area are still conducting business as usual, signifying that activities to formulate the ordinances for the "Child Labour Free Zone” system have not been affected. 

Field officers residing in the project area are able to work as usual, but staff staying in Kumasi, where the lockdown curfew is effective, are working from home until the lockdown is lifted. Even after it is lifted, we will be implementing measures to prevent infections including social distancing, hygiene practices such as hand washing, and frequent disinfection.

About our Future Strategy

Interviews with local people conducted by local NGO staff have shown that children are at a higher risk of returning to child labour due to their inability to go to school. In addition, since the “Blue Sky Market”, where larger numbers of people gather to buy and sell products, is currently closed, local cash income is decreasing. This undeniably increases the risk of children being forced to return to child labour. Moreover, although June is the final semester of the school calendar and there are children who are preparing to attend the next school year, under these circumstances, more and more families are worried whether they can safely and realistically send their children back to high school.

Given the circumstances, we are considering how to adjust our operations in the project area to support local people. Our top priority is to protect children's rights and prevent child labour re-emerging, and this will remain our top priority and the basis of our future strategy.

Thank you again for your continued support!  Any further support that you can give will be much appreciated.

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Training session on Snail Aquaculture
Training session on Snail Aquaculture

The SMILE Ghana project has entered its third and final year of fieldwork in two villages in the Ahafo Region in Ghana.

More and more people in the village understand the negative consequences of child labour and the importance of children's education.

Efforts have progressed to stabilise and improve the livelihoods of the children’s parents, cacao farmers, so that the children can continue to go to school with peace of mind.

The village had long wanted to create another source of income other than cacao. So we started working with the Ghana Cocoa Board to hold training sessions on snail aquaculture (Snail For Food). In a cacao field, an aquacultural shelf can be made where these edible snails can be produced by feeding them things such as banana leaves. This was a new source of cash income that could easily be set up by the cacao farmers.

The first proceeds were used for the maintenance of the village schools.

Now, regardless of whether cacao production decreases or not, alternative sources of income ensure a stable flow of cash. This protects children from child labour and ensures a stable educational environment.

ACE will continue to support cacao farmers in maintaining cacao production areas in which children are protected from exploitation.

Snail Aquaculture Box
Snail Aquaculture Box
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My name is Akira Kondo, and I am the Ghana Project Manager for ACE. Thank you so very much for supporting our efforts to end child exploitation in the world.

The Smile Ghana Project has been active in two villages in the Asunafo South District of Ahafo Region since February 2018. Since then, village tours have been conducted by the “Community Child Protection Committee (CCPC),”  a group of trained volunteers, to look for cases of child labour. When they do come across a child working, the child and their family are gathered together to discuss what needs to be done to enable the children to go to school, taking into consideration the parents' voices and concerns. While these tours may seem like a very simple activity, it has uncovered the case of many child labourers and resulted in their withdrawal from labour and re-entrance into education. Let me tell you about just one case, her name is Mary.

Mary* (a pseudonym) is 15 years old and is the fourth sibling of five brothers. She moved to this village with her family three years ago. When ACE started the SMILE Ghana project, Mary and her 9-year-old brother Michael*  (a pseudonym) were not in school, they had left school to work before moving. Mary’s family are peasant farmers who work in the cacao fields. The family felt that they could not afford to send all five children to school because of their income.

However, having been able to talk with the CCPC volunteers, the family was able to think about how they could find a way to afford it. In Ghana, school tuition is free but families must provide school supplies such as stationery and textbooks. As such ACE provided these to the family so that Mary and Michael could go to school. Again, for many this may seem so simple and yet for cocoa-farming families like Mary's buying school supplies is simply not possible.

Now all five children are attending school but surviving on the family’s income is still tough. In order to increase their income, their father is attending voluntary agricultural training to further fund his children’s education.

Currently, Mary’s favourite subject is Mathematics and she has realized that her dream is to become a nurse in the future. We will continue to support Mary so that she continues to make her dreams become a reality.

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Thank you for your ongoing support of our projects. Without your financial contributions, we would not be able to continue our operations in new villages in Ghana and establish child labour-free supply chains in Ghana and across the globe.

Last week ACE presented at the TICAD 7 (7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development), an international three-day gathering attended by country leaders, NGOS, trade unions and government ministries. The TICAD is an important collection of events fostering cross-sector collaboration and knowledge exchange and it acts as a time for reflection on the progress being made in African development. It is also a time when future priorities and commitments by all stakeholders can be declared. It represented a great opportunity for ACE to reflect upon the lessons learned from the SMILE Ghana project and how our operations are leading the way for the creation of a system of Child Labour Free Zones (CLFZ) across cocoa-farming communities in Ghana.

On the second day of the conference, we were able to have a lengthy conversation with Nana Brempong, head of our local partner CRADA, as well as Mr. Nana, Chief of a village in Atwima Mponua district where we first started the SMILE Ghana project back in 2009. We reflected upon how the community had changed within the last ten years, and thought it was important to share some of their jaw-dropping statistics with you.

Prior to the project, 30% of the village’s children were enrolled in school. Attendance was poor and a path toward university practically non-existent. The existing educational environment itself discouraged attendance and helped steer children into labour in the coca-industry: the village didn’t have a junior high school - the nearest one was 9 miles away, teacher attendance and performance was poor due to lack of training and infrastructure, and parents could not see the importance of sending children to school when they lacked the funding to provide them with necessary supplies such as textbooks and school meals. Today, enrolment in school is at 95% with school attendance remaining between 95-98% throughout the year. Several students are attending university this year.

Chief Nana himself expressed his surprise and gratitude regarding how much the village had changed, highlighting the fact that he no longer saw children working on the farm during the school day. As part of the SMILE project, a junior high school was built in the village. School supplies provided. Vulnerable families provided financial support and financial management training. Teachers given training and more teachers recruited to accommodate the increase in the pupil population.

While he acknowledged that he had faced some reluctance at the beginning of the project to withdraw children from labour, the improvements of the educational environment and awareness-raising activities regarding the importance of education has reinforced support amongst community members. We were so delighted to hear about how things had changed in this village and these changes are being seen in the other project villages too. By providing these communities with the initial aid to improve - or even newly establish - basic facilities and supplies, we are able to kick start a long-term transformation of development.

We will continue to work with local people in Ghana, working in solidarity to create a better educational environment for all the children who live there so that they have the capacity to themselves build a better future for their community.

Thank you again for your role in these successes. Any further support that you can give for the continuation and expansion of this project will be much appreciated.

Presentation at TICAD 7 Side Event
Presentation at TICAD 7 Side Event
With chocolates made from beans from Ghana
With chocolates made from beans from Ghana
Children in school at a village in Ghana
Children in school at a village in Ghana
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Organization Information

Action against Child Exploitation (ACE)

Location: Taitoku, Tokyo - Japan
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @ace_japan
Project Leader:
Masami Narizuka
Taitoku, Tokyo Japan
$10,870 raised of $15,000 goal
 
92 donations
$4,130 to go
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