Some children in schools in the Talensi District in the Upper East Region are abandoning classes to engage in illegal mining activities, popularly called galamsey.
Information from the district reaching the Daily Graphic indicated that the rate at which pupils were dropping out of school to participate in digging for gold was very high.
Galamsey versus schooling
Under the circumstances, the district has instituted a taskforce to restrict children, particularly those in school, from engaging in galamsey activities.
The District Chief Executive (DCE) for Talensi, Dr Christopher Boatbil Sormiteyema, who disclosed this to the Daily Graphic in an interview in Accra, said many children in the district saw the illegal mining to be very lucrative.
He said as a means of addressing poverty in the district, which was pushing some parents to permit their children to engage in the illegal activities, the assembly had put in plans to vigorously encourage participation in the government’s agricultural policy, Planting for Food and Jobs, “to liberate the people from deprivation and hunger.”
Lack of supervision
Dr Sormiteyema said the district had been performing abysmally in the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) over the past decade.
For example, he said, less than 50 per cent of candidates in the district that sat for the BECE gained admission to senior high schools.
The assembly was, therefore, intensifying supervision in basic schools in order to stop the declining standards of education in the district.
He said as part of efforts by the assembly to get the supervisors to carry out their duties effectively, “we have agreed to support them with fuel to the tune of GH¢300 each month for their vehicles.”
In addition, he said, the assembly would undertake an intensive public education on the matter in collaboration with the district education directorate to discourage the practice and encourage parents to rather support their children to stay in school.
The DCE said the assembly also had plans to organise workshops to build the capacities of teachers in the district, adding that “as part of the capacity building initiative, we would motivate teachers and get them to appreciate teaching as a vocation and not just a job to earn salary.”
“Sometimes when you see your work as a vocation, the passion with which you work is different from when you look at it as an activity just to earn salary.
“So, there is need to inject such kinds of principles in the teachers and I believe that with time we will see improvement in their performance and that of students under their care,” Dr Sormiteyema said.
He said as part of the assembly’s drive to improve performance in schools, “we are also looking at publicising the performance of schools in the BECE to encourage competition among them”.