Stakeholders have identified early and forced marriages, poverty and poor social welfare services as key factors contributing to low enrolment of children in basic schools in parts of the Northern Region.
This came to light during a meeting of stakeholders in education in the Savelugu Municipality to discuss ways to support out-of-school children there to access formal education.
The meeting, which was held simultaneously in four other districts in the Region, was organised by Plan International Ghana, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), as part of its Reaching and Teaching Out-of-school Children (REACH) Project, which is sponsored by Educate A Child.
The REACH Project is modelled on the country’s Complementary Basic Education Programme (CBE), which affords out-of-school children, who are beyond school starting age (eight to 14), the opportunity to acquire basic literacy and numeracy skills, within a period of nine months in their mother-tongues to facilitate their enrolment into the formal school system.
The REACH Project began three years ago and, so far, 37,063 out-of-school children in five districts including Bunkpurugu/Yunyoo, Chereponi and Tatale/Sanguli and Savelugu Municipality have benefited from it with about 90 per cent of them progressing to formal schools, thereby improving literacy and numeracy rates amongst children in those areas.
The stakeholders said early and forced marriages led to increased teenage pregnancies, which prevented girls from going to school or dropped out-of-school while poverty and poor social welfare services meant no support for needy children to access education.
They, therefore, called for strengthening of the Department of Social Welfare to enable it to work effectively to provide the needed support to needy children to enable them to attain formal education.
Mr Sulemana Hor Gbana, the Project Manager at the Northern Programme Support Office of Plan International Ghana, said the Project had helped in reducing the number of out-of-school children in the beneficiary districts adding that it would be replicated in other districts in the Region.
Mr Gbana called on the beneficiary districts and the Ghana Education Service (GES) to continue to sensitise community members to appreciate the importance of education in order to enrol their children in school at the right age “so that we do not continue to have out-of-school children in the system.”
Mr Isaah Huzeidu, the NGO Desk Officer at the Northern Regional Directorate of Education, said the GES would intensify monitoring of schools and post teachers where there were high enrolment figures to improve education delivery in the Region.