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22 June 2016

Parents urged to help curb truancy among children

Pupils from schools in Biriwa holding placards during a procession through the town, before the durbarParents whose children are found loitering in the Mfantsiman Municipality when they should be in school in the Central Region will be prosecuted, beginning September this year.

This is part of measures to reduce truancy and ensure that children attend school regularly.

A bye-law that will regulate this has been passed by the Mfantsiman Municipal Assembly, and education on it is ongoing in the various communities.

World Day Against Child Labour

The Deputy Coordinating Director for the Mfantsiman Municipal Assembly, Mr Peter Kwesi Wilson, who announced this at a durbar to mark World Day Against Child Labour at Biriwa, said beginning September this year, the assembly would arrest all children between the ages of six and 18 found loitering during school hours, and keep them in police custody until their parents were found and prosecuted.

The celebration had the theme: “End Child Labour in Fisheries Supply Chains. It’s Everyone’s Business.”

The Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP) of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and its allied partners including Hen Mpoano, Friends of the Nation, organised the durbar to educate parents and children on the need to prevent children from engaging in any form of hazardous work and encourage them to attend school regularly.

Other partners include SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, SSG Advisors, Daasgift, DAA, Central and Western Fishmongers Association (CEWEFIA) and Spatial Solutions.

Fishing communities

The durbar was attended by parents from fishing communities, including Apam, Abandze, Moree and Biriwa, and was aimed at helping them understand the dangers of child labour.

“Any parent who ignores the calls and does not ensure their children are kept in school do so at their own expense,” Mr  Wilson stated.

Mr Dickson Adeborna of the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, a partner of USAID/Ghana SFMP programme, said child labour threatens children’s physical, mental and emotional well-being and stops them from attending school or achieving the best in school.

According to the Ghana Statistical Service, about two million children in Ghana are used as child labourers and traded as ‘commodities for monetary benefits’. This figure represents 21.8 per cent of the population of Ghanaian children, and most of them are in the fisheries supply chain in Ghana.

Mr Adeborna also noted that Ghana’s open-access fishery continued to create an avenue for many fishermen to employ illegal and unsustainable fishing practices that involved children in some circumstances, and indicated that the Constitution. emphasised that “every child has the right to be protected from engaging in work that constitutes a threat to his health, education or development”.

Involvement of children

He said a number of children were caught in the centre of these practices. Some of them are used as slaves and made to work at night on the sea and on the Volta Lake. Children are exposed to rainstorm and very cold weather and risk drowning, while some are beaten daily by their employers. Some of them are held in bondage due to debts owed by their parents and  others are exploited sexually. The rights of these children, which should be treated with respect and dignity, are ignored.

He said “these children also miss out on school and their right to live with their families, especially for those who are trafficked, usually with the consent of their parents, to neighbouring countries.”

Mr Adeborna added that the Child Labour component of the five-year SFMP sought to reduce child labour and trafficking through behavioural change communications.

A renowned Ghanaian actor, Adjetey Annan, who is the Child Labour Ambassador for the project, led a walk through Biriwa  and at the durbar advised children to appreciate their parents’ efforts and stay in school.

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