All children, irrespective of background, should have the right to receive a quality education.
This right is recognised internationally, with both government and non-government organisations around the world advocating for learning for all. Recognising and advocating for this right is crucial – a tentative first step in making quality education accessible to every child. Enacting positive change through this recognition can be difficult, with many communities and families lacking access to the practical resources needed to support learning.
Ghana is no exception to this, with many children, particularly in rural communities, struggling to attend school. Several months ago, I wrote about the launch of World Inspiring Network’s Education Response Fund, through which we are raising money to help children in the rural communities of Osunu Dompe, Ahomahomasu, Besebuom and Tafi Mador. During December, we hope to be able raise enough money to send 120 children from these communities to school. We will support these children over the course of a year, providing them with the crucial resources that they need to learn.
I spoke with 24-year-old Theresa, a resident of Osunu Dompe, to learn more about the challenges
faced by children in rural communities.
Enter “Osunu Dompe” into an internet search browser and you’ll find very little. Difficult to find on even a detailed map of Greater Accra, many outside the region are not aware even of its existence. Theresa tells me that although the surrounding area is popular with tourists travelling to nearby waterfalls, Osunu Dompe itself is seldom visited. A small community, Osunu Dompe receives very little in the way of help from outsiders, and many of its residents, including Theresa, experience extreme poverty as a result.
Theresa is an eloquent, confident young woman with a ready smile, who clearly cares deeply for her family and community. She grew up in Osunu Dompe. Her parents are farmers and, before starting school, she worked with them on the farm, helping to grow crops. Like many in the community, Theresa’s family struggled to fund her studies. She tells me how she sold firewood to help to support herself, and often had to attend school without any shoes. In spite of the wealth of challenges she faced, Theresa was determined to continue to pursue an education.
Her situation became even more difficult, however, when her father started to suffer from serious illness, losing his ability to work. No longer able to afford fees, a uniform or text books, she was forced to leave school in junior high. Her education incomplete, Theresa has struggled to find work, although she is highly ambitious and aspires to start her own business in the future. There is very little opportunity in her community, she tells me.
As we are talking, Theresa’s younger brother, Stephen, arrives home on his bike. Like his sister, Stephen is confident and easy to talk to. He also lives with extreme poverty. Stephen has not yet left school, although has had to balance education with work as a result of his father’s illness, selling firewood and crops to support his family. Many children from the community begin their education
in Osunu Dompe. The village’s only school, Osunu Dompe Methodist School, lacks many of the crucial resources needed to support learning. The majority of children write on slates using chalk, and the school has very few books. Stephen now leaves the village to learn, travelling to nearby Pokuase. Theresa encourages her brother to continue with his schooling for as long as possible, recognising the vital opportunities that education provides. “In this world”, Theresa says, “school is the most important thing.”
Many people, myself included, would agree with Theresa.
UNESCO argues, for example, that education provides a crucial foundation for sustainable development, and often prevents the transmission of poverty between generations. Ensuring access to quality education increases individual earnings, reduces economic inequalities and promotes a nation’s overall economic growth. UNESCO’s report estimates, in fact, that 171 million people from around the world could escape extreme poverty if every child left school with basic reading skills. This is equivalent to a 12% drop in global poverty. Education, quite literally, opens doors, empowering the children of today to become the innovators, mentors and leaders of tomorrow.
Ensuring provision of quality education to every child may seem something of an insurmountable
task. More than 617 million children globally, according to UNESCO, leave school without being able
to read or write. One third of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa. There is no single organisation which can guarantee educational support to every individual included in this statistic. By working together, however, and changing just one life at a time, we at World Inspiring Network believe we can influence positive, sustained change among entire communities. To do this, we desperately need your help. Please consider supporting our Send a Child to School Initiative, and help us to raise awareness by learning more about our work!