The ancient town of Elmina is home to thousands of fisher folks who mostly engage in artisanal fishing and the controversial saiko, which has received widespread condemnation.
Children engaging in fishing in this community to the detriment of their education is common sight regardless of the numerous campaigns waged to reduce the practice.
At the Mpoben fish market, one will be overwhelmed by the shocking numbers of children engaging in various forms of work during instructional periods at school. From descaling fish through loading of fish onto carts and vehicles to catching small fish which have found their way to that part of the sea at the landing area of the fish market, children are busy at work.
ATL FM News’ Sylvia Ahiadeke says children as young as seven years are seen engaged in all forms of work to earn little sums, merely pittance to fend for themselves.
According to one child, he has abandoned school because his grandmother, with whom he has lived for the past nine years, cannot afford to take care of him. His parents are living in Abidjan without any remittance to him. He says he earns GHS10 a day.
A local fisherman, Egya John Otoo, says the increasing number of children at the shores of Elmina can be attributed to two issue; poor parenting and the children themselves being truant.
He laments the countless number of times he has been verbally abused by women at the fish market for driving the children away.
A social worker with the Komenda Edina Eguafo Abrem office of the Department of Social Welfare, Godfrey Nyarko told ATL FM News most of the children found around the Mpoben market and around the beaches come from other communities, though some are indigenes of Elmina.
He said the Department has identified the major problem as the lack of understanding by parents and care givers in general. To correct this, they have adopted two approaches; the preventive approach and response.
He added, “We are now embarking on intensive sensitization programme on child labor and trafficking issues”.
Mr. Nyarko admits though they have been tackling the problem, the response has not been encouraging.
“It is helping but the effects or results that we want to see are not immediate, but I believe that the responses we are getting from the community indicate that at least we have triggered the change process and so people are beginning to embrace the concept and also educate others who do not know. The only problem we have is that, we are not seeing the numbers of children reducing because several other factors also come into play”.
At the recently held world Day against Child Labour celebration in Cape Coast, the honourable minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr. Ignatius Baffour Awuah appealed for more dedication by stakeholders to creating a more vigorous and sustained approach in a collective battle against child labour in the central region.
He also assured government’s support to eradicate the menace.
ATL FM NEWS