Some opinion leaders in cocoa-growing communities in the Assin Municipality have appealed for the inclusion of schools in the area in the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP).
They explained that currently, child labour had reduced significantly in the area and children were now in school; so if they also enjoyed the benefits of the programme, it would encourage them to stay in school and that would improve on the poor school enrolment rate.
The leaders made the appeal when the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), an organisation that seeks to promote child protection in cocoa-growing communities, together with journalists, visited Assin Fosu to assess the problem of child labour in the municipality.
The communities, which are Assin Ninkyiso and Assin Abease, are in the Assin Municipality.
The Secretary to the Community Child Protection System (CCPS) of Assin Ninkyiso, Mr Effah Yeboah, who spoke on behalf of the leaders of the town, explained that some parents did not have money to give to their children daily to buy food when they went to school.
He said in view of that, the children ate at home before setting off for school; however, because they walked long distances to school, they got hungry again in no time, making it difficult for them to concentrate in class.
He noted that the few whose parents could afford to give them money for food, didn't even find food to buy in school because the food vendors had stopped providing the service due to low patronage by the children.
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"Because of this, the children don't have any interest in attending school since there is no food to buy to eat even when they have money,” he explained.
For his part, Mr James Kwofie from Assin Abease said: "If the GSFP is introduced, it will encourage the schoolchildren to go to school."
When asked whether the Assin Municipal Assembly had been informed about the issue, Mr Kwofie mentioned that they had submitted a letter to that effect to the assembly but had not received any response yet.
The Spokesperson for Assin Ninkyiso, indicated that the assembly asked them to identify a place in the school they could prepare and serve the food, which they did, but had not heard from the assembly since.
Earlier in their presentations on how they had successfully reduced child labour and measures they had adopted to ensure it was sustained, the CCPS executive members in the communities said initially when they started raising awareness of the need for parents and guardians not to ask their children to engage in difficult and hazardous work on their farms, it was difficult.
However, they explained that they intensified the education of members of the communities until the parents began to appreciate the harm they were exposing their children to, and gradually stopped using their children on the farms, especially on school days.