International Human Rights Defence Committee (CIPDH) staff and volunteers of the The Accra Ridge Church “Youth Fellowship” program held a public charity event in Accra aimed To highlight the situation with access to compulsory school education for children. CIPDH work group headed by CIPDH inspector NAUMAN Y. accompanied volunteers of the The Accra Ridge Church “Youth Fellowship” program and Representatives of the Ministry of Education of Ghana Republic visited several schools in remote settlements.
One of the UN Millennium Development Goals for developing countries to be achieved by 2016 is universal primary education. In 1996, Ghana instituted a program called Free, Compulsory, Universal Basic Education (FCUBE). Though Ghana’s education system has indeed been improved since its implementation, it is far from achieving the UN Millennium Development goal of universal primary education. Approximately 40% of the young population does not even attend primary school, indicating that the “free” and “compulsory” part of the FCUBE program is far from reality.
Though technically there are no fees to attend primary school in Ghana, students are required to purchase books, uniforms, and other related materials. The cost of these things is often prohibitively expensive for many families seeking to send their children to school, blocking many children from enrolling in primary schools.
The opportunity cost of losing a child as a laborer for the family is also a burden. Many families need their children to work in the home or contribute to the family income by selling items on the street. Thus, the “compulsory” part of education is not enforced, as thousands of Ghanaian children are on the streets selling and in their homes performing chores. No punishment currently exists for Ghanaians who do not sent their children to school. In Accra, government officials and even the president drive past these school-aged children on the street every day, yet nothing is done about their lack of schooling.
Like many policies, the FCUBE program of Ghana is sound in theory, but fails in practice. In order to truly meet the goal of universal education a strict policy of enforcement must be enacted. This needs to be paired with stipends for families who cannot afford the uniforms and book fees required for proper education. Without these stipulations Ghana will continue to have a high illiteracy rate and an uneducated population.