Article by Sampson Abankwah
THE MENACE OF GALAMSEY ON EDUCATION AT KOKOTRO SUBRISU (ASANTE BEKWAI)- KILLING THE FUTURE TODAY
Over the past decades, falling standards in education have been a matter of concern for all stakeholders in education.
There are several opinions on the causes of the falling standards of education. Whilst some blame teachers for not putting much effort, others think absenteeism on the part of students is the problem. Another school of thought believes that both parents and students do not pay particular attention to education and for that matter, school performance is not taken into effective consideration.
It is believed that people are not given the opportunity to deal with financial constraints on the part of the parent. Others are made to start paying their own school fees at all tender age because they engage in illegal mining activities alongside schooling.
One cannot underscore the great impart education would have brought to the mining sector but notwithstanding, it appears stakeholders have paid little attention to the effect illegal activity has on school attendance and academic performance of the people of Bekwai Municipality particularly KOKOTRO SUBRISU. In furtherance of this, it is alleged that some of the children who become dropouts are as a result of truancy which is becoming a social evil to the society by practicing all forms of social vices such as drug abuse, among others. In spite of the significant function the smallscale mining activities play in district and the country at large, it is believed to have a retrogressing effect on school attendance and academic performance therefore, it has become a critical concern to look into the effects of the illegal mining on school performance in Primary and junior high school.
(9) years are actively involved in galamsey
Before my postings to the Bekwai Municipality as a professional teacher, I heard a lot about the effects of galamsey but I thought it was just speculation until my arrival to one of the communities actively involved in galamsey. My heart beats so fast when I see how young learners as low as nine (9) years are actively involved in galamsey. Indeed we are killing the future today.
This article seeks to prove that school dropout, truancy, prostitution, drug abuse, and teenage pregnancy are consequences of galamsey activities in the Bekwai Municipality (KOKOTRO SUBRISO). The impact of galamsey on education is beyond measure and must be carefully looked at.
Pupils Abandon school for Galamsey
Sadly, this form of mining records high rate of accidents and are exposed to mercury poisoning from their crude processing methods, but they do not consider these effects. A report by Daily Guide on May 4, 2015 with the headline “pupils Abandon school for Galamsey” revealed that, indeed galamsey has become the biggest factor that hinder children’s educational right.
It was revealed in the report that, many children of school going age have abandoned their classrooms and are now into full time illegal mining activities, due to cash benefits that come with these activities, despite the associated risks. The situation as captured by daily guide is just the same at Kokotro Subrisu.
Moreover, the enrollment figures in most of the Municipality where galamsey is actively practiced are declining drastically as pupils had put on hold their plans to pursue formal education to chase “quick money”. These children not knowing the threats they pose to their environment pursue illicit smallscale mining in search of gold. Most of them also are lured into it by the cash their siblings and other elderly people make from the activity after quitting school to join galamsey.
It has become rather worrisome to note that the popularity of illegal mining has gotten to the level where even candidates who are about writing examination that can guarantee them entrance to the secondary school abandon the exams for mining. Most of the BECE candidates right after registration never comes to school again until the time set foe the BECE is due.
The few students who are able to complete the junior High School (JHS) after writing their final exams (BECE) never proceed to the SHS. They go back to “site” as they refer to. It will surprise you to know that more than 80% of the BECE candidates after JHS quit school to engage in galamsey.
Dropout and Teenage Pregnancy
The ladies among them are impregnated by the galamsey workers causing teaanage pregnancy and unplanned motherhood.
There are countless ladies here of school going age who are now mothers and has therefore abandoned school. I wanted to find out why the problem. After my interview with a lot of them, I came to realize that a lot of them were forced and convinced by their parents. One of them told me “My mother always insults me siting other ladies as examples as they have men who cater for them and hence, I should also search for one.” Other parents also tell their children not to put their basic needs on them but should rather find means to cater for themselves.
Abusing of drugs can also not be underrated. A lot of students abuse drugs which they claim helps them to work hard without experiencing any form of pains or tiredness. I’m wondering how the lives and future of these young ones will be after continuous engagement in galamsey and abusing of drugs. Image a student of age 9 years actively engaged in galamsey.
The question I keep on asking myself is, how did we sit to watch this happen? Since when did parents abandon their responsibility to be done by their wards? What will happen in the next ten years if this problem continue to exist? My heart beats so fast when I see these young ones.
One can come to the conclusion that, the low attendance of school and participation in educational activities by children in mining communities across the country is as a result of the delusion that they can get rich quick through galamsey than following the long route of education to achieve the objectives and make money. An indication that they do not understand the essence of education. This indeed is a wake up call to the Bekwai Municipal Directorate, the Ghana Education Service and the country at large.
If the concerns raised in this article are not looked at with urgent attention, the effects in the near future will be uncontrollable and hence the need to act now. Image the number of learners who will quit school just to engage in galamsey, imagine the number of youth who will be diagnosed with health issues, imagine the number of teenage pregnancy that will be recorded.
The article has revealed that indeed illegal mining activities done by students do have negative effect on school attendance and academic performance, but that notwithstanding, there are other causes like poverty, broken home, inadequate parental control which also have great impact on school performance and academic performance.
Parents and teachers must educate their wards and students on the importance of education and parents must provide their wards basic needs. This will motivate and rekindle student’s interest in schooling and reduce the rate of absenteeism. Parents must be made aware that it is their responsibility to bear the cost of their children needs including education.
Teachers should be loving and receptive so as to encourage students who face challenges at home to approach them. They should also try and find out from students why they absent themselves from school so that they can offer the necessary assistance and counselling to these students.
Non-Governmental Organizations (N.G.O’s) should come to the aid of children whose parents cannot afford to pay their fees. This can be done when the school heads communicate regularly to the N.G.O’s on the problems faced by the needy but brilliant student. This will motivate other students to take their studies serious.
The Municipal Assembly can also help by setting up educational funds which will assist needy students and also encourage parents to send their wards to school instead of engaging their wards in illegal mining activities.
The Traditional authority in collaboration with the Municipal assembly can also assist by enacting bye-laws which prompt parents to see to it that their wards attend school regularly.
The government can also help by providing the needed school materials regularly and check the illegal payment of unapproved fees on educational materials to enable school children to be in school all the time.
The implementation of the New Educational Reform and Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education should be strengthened and implemented fully by the government to assist education of pupils.
BY Sampson Abankwah………………Tel. 0548647310
(Teacher, KOKOTRO METHODIST PRIMARY SCHOOL, BEKWAI)
Reference (Earnest Adu Gyamfi), Daily Guide