Monday, November 24, 2014

RAINS Offers Lifeline To 3,700 Children To Attain Basic Education

Executive Dir. RAINS

An estimated 3,700 children and another 6,500 members from four communities in the West Mamprusi District and the Savelugu-Nanton Municipality in the Northern Region of Ghana, are receiving support from the Regional Advisory Information and Network Systems (RAINS) and Hope for Children, UK.

Between now and 2017, a 3-year extension project, “Childhood Regained” phase II of an initial 2-year pilot project that was implemented in Daboya No. 2 and Nayorku in West Mamprusi and Nanton-Kurugu and Zokuga in Savelugu-Nanton, will offer a lifeline to children in these communities to attain quality basic education.

The Executive Director of RAINS, Tijani Mohammed Hardi told Savannahnews, the aim is to sustain and improve upon the gains made in Childhood Regained phase I and bring about an integrated community development so that the model could be replicated in other areas by other development partners.

According to Mr. Tijani, the project uses similar strategies that were adopted in the phase I albeit with little adjustments and additions reflecting recommendations of the project evaluations and lessons learnt in its implementation. 

“The project focuses on promoting child rights, reducing child labour and child exploitation in rural communities in the Northern Region. It aims at empowering local community structures to effectively promote positive change that will enrich the lives of beneficiaries and communities” he emphasised. 

He said the project seeks to achieve this objective in a multi-dimensional facet using three main strategies– the provision of quality basic education; support in livelihood options for women group; and community advocacy for the elimination of cases of child labour and other forms of child exploitation.

The Savelugu-Nanton Municipality is at the moment struggling to redeem its sinking image in the education sector since it took the bottom spot in the 2013 nationwide Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE). Besides, of the 22 Junior High Schools presented by the Municipal Directorate of the Ghana Education Service (GES) for the 2012 BECE, 15 schools scored below 40 percent representing 68.20 percent.

But, there are underlying causes to the poor performances of schools and pupils in this municipality. Authorities cite candidates lack of adequate understanding of simple concepts in their subject areas; incomplete coverage of syllabus/loss of contact hours; weak foundation at the primary level; poor attitude of teachers towards work; lack of standardized mode of assessment to track schools performances and high level of truancy among BECE candidates after registration.

Other reasons given are inappropriate use of instructional hours by teachers; lack of parental supervision and monitoring of children’s learning behaviour; negative peer influence; inadequate or poor supervision of schools by GES officials as well as mass promotion of pupils to the next class at the end of academic years.

A lot of the aforementioned reasons are equally responsible for the poor performances of schools and pupils in all the 28 districts in the Northern Region, besides the lack of teachers and teaching and learning materials in some of the schools. Official statistics from the GES say, there are about 404 schools in the Northern Region that have no teachers at all.   

 Children, elders of Zokuga during a community durbar
The NGO Desk Officer at the Savelugu-Nanton Municipal Education Directorate, Mohammed Abdul-Rashid, admits there are challenges confronting education in the municipality and said steps are being taken to address the challenges.

He pointed out inadequate monitoring as one of the major challenges, adding that, the Municipal Education Directorate is being provided with fuel and other logistics to ensure effective and efficient supervision and monitoring of teachers attendance and performances.

While commending RAINS for their unflinching support in recent times, Mr. Abdul-Rashid urged the people of Nanton-Kurugu and Zokuga to make good use of the support being provided by the organisation.

The Project Officer, Munira Musah, said 2,500 children who are at risk of dropping out from school, will get the opportunity to have continued quality education. “It’s an outcome that targets children in school called ‘Stars’ under the Comic Relief Funded project”, she told Savannahnews.

“1,200 children will also stop being engaged in exploitative labour and enter quality formal education or training. This outcome on the other hand, targets the out-of-school children called ‘Eagles’ under the project”, Ms. Musah noted.

She also mentioned that, about 1,500 women and families are expected to sustainably fund their children’s access to quality education or training by the end of the project. This, she said, targets the mothers of the children who are direct beneficiaries –the Stars and the Eagles mothers in the communities.

Opinion leaders, school management committees (SMCs), parent teacher associations (PTAs), social welfare and the department of children among others, Ms. Musah stressed, will also have their capacity enhanced to be able to protect 3,300 children in six schools from abuse.  

The implementation of the Childhood Regained project adds up to an ongoing project –INCOME, by RAINS and Canadian Feed The Children in the Savelugu-Nanton Municipality. INCOME is providing support to hundreds of children at Kpachelo English and Arabic School and the Zoosali M/A Primary School through the donation of teaching and learning materials, furniture, classrooms, bicycles and other form of assistance to their parents.   

Similarly, under the IEGA project which ends in November this year, RAINS has been able to train many PTAs, SMCs, district education oversight committees and other civil society organisations to effectively manage schools in the West Mamprusi District for efficient delivery of quality education.

RAINS, is a non-governmental organisation set up by a group of social development activists in Northern Ghana in 1993. Since its foundation, RAINS has focused on improving the quality of life particularly for children, women and girls in the Northern Region.

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