Dropping out of school in the Bawku West District of the Upper East Region has become rampant and a worrying trend for stakeholders in the area.
Many students at school age in the area have dropped out of school in search of quick riches through illegal mining (galamsey) while others, especially girls, get pregnant and go into early marriage.
The phenomenon is not only affecting the growth and development of children but is increasing the illiteracy rate in the area.
To help tackle the menace, Mr Godwin Abugbilla, a level 100 student of the Ashesi University has begun a mentorship project in the district to help increase students’ retention in school and improve academic performance.
The move dubbed, “Students Activeness and Motivational Award Project (SAM AP)” with a grant from the Ashesi University is aimed to provide source of encouragement and mentorship activities for students.
This would help them to appreciate the significance of education to their growth and development, hence stay focused in school and learn.
Mr Abugbilla, who is currently pursuing Bachelor of Science in Management Information System (MIS), noted that apart from parents prioritizing farming at the expense of their children’s education, illegal mining in the area was compelling students to drop out of school.
He said students did not see the importance of staying in school to learn, instead, they engage in illegal mining activities to get rich quickly, thereby putting pressure on the few who were in school to also drop out.
“I came home and realised that most of the students are dropping out of school and people attributed the issue to lack of motivation, mentorship and because some young people who have made money from galamsey, some parents are putting pressure on their children to drop out and make quick money,” he revealed.
Mr Abugbilla noted that the project was therefore aimed to mentor students through quiz competitions and education on entrepreneurship among others to motivate students in the area to appreciate the role of education in their development and place importance to it.
He said the project which was initiated with a quiz competition among four Junior High Schools would also constantly provide guidance to students in the area regarding choice of courses and future careers.
Through the project, he said, it was also expected that students, especially girls would be empowered to desist from activities that would lead to unplanned pregnancies and early child marriages.
“Some of the activities will also prepare students towards their final examination, particularly the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and help to achieve academic resilience and excellence,” he added.
While commending the Ashesi University for sponsoring the project, Mr Abugbilla appealed to parents to invest in their children’s education as the surest way to creating an enabling environment for development and poverty reduction.
He told the students that “whatever you can think, or dream is achievable, and it is within you to make it possible.”
Mr Pius Agbango, the Headteacher for Kpantarigo JHS lauded the efforts of Mr Abugbilla to help change the situation in the area and encouraged the students to study hard and eschew social vices.