In Spite of the numerous interventions by government to ensure quality basic education for all Ghanaian children, majority of children of school going ages in some parts of the Northern Region are still not in school.
Most of the children especially the girls are either pushed into early marriages, kayaye or are engaged by their parents on the farm, whilst the boys herd cattle. It is estimated that children between the age of zero and fifteen years constitute over 48 percent of the total population of the Northern Region, hence any attempt by their parents or the communities to toy with their education would further widen the scope of poverty in the region.
Even though they are expected to becoming the future leaders of this country, a large number of these children are still not in school for no obvious reasons.
Against this backdrop, the Right To Play, a child centered international NGO operating in the three Northern Regions has taken steps to ensure that all children of school going ages in their operational areas are enrolled in school.
The Right To Play currently operates in about 50 communities in its four operational districts in the Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions. The NGO is using all forms of play activities including drama, talent hunts and football competition to effect changes in the behaviour and development of its target groups.
At Tingoli, a deprived community in the Tolon-Kumbungu District of the Northern Region, the Right To Play used their play activities and football competition between students of the Tingoli R/C Primary School and other children in the community who are not in school as means of advocating and encouraging parents to enroll their children.
The objective was also to encourage the out of school children especially to enroll in school. Shortly after the football match, a mini-durbar was organized by the NGO to sensitize the community especially the Chief, opinion and religion leaders as well as parents on the need to prioritize their children’s education especially the girl child.
Savannahnews gathered that, the young girls in the Tingoli community see early marriage as the surest way of relieving themselves and their parents from poverty, to the total neglect of their education.
Some of the parents this reporter questioned on why they were not interested in sending their children to school almost sang one song “we don’t have money to pay school fees, buy school uniforms and books”.
Some of them claimed they were not aware of the government’s policy of Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE), the free school uniforms, books and capitation grant.
However, the Assistant Project Officer of the Right To Play, Ms. Dunee Emma Evita addressing the mini-durbar took time to explain to the community leaders and their children about the importance of education and how it could contribute to the development of the area.
According to Ms Evita, it was totally irrelevant for any parent to use the issue of poverty as basis for not sending their children to school.
She noted that, government and other partners like Right To Play had committed so much resources into the educational sector, and had also embarked on massive advocacy campaign towards encouraging the populace to embrace education at all levels.
The Assistant Project Officer emphasized that it would be of great disincentive to any community that would allow its people or children to reject education for kayaye or early marriage.
However, the Area Circuit Supervisor for the Ghana Education Service, Mr. Ernest Tia Chimsi and
Madam Ayishetu Adam, a Sport Coordinator for the District also added their voice to the call by the Right To Play to encourage parents to take advantage of the numerous government educational policies to propel the community into a better future.
Conversely, two set of football jerseys and footballs were presented to the teams for continuous campaign to encourage children in the community to enroll. A similar project was also launched in Savelugu simultaneously by the Right To Play to also encourage children to enroll in school.