School children turn to Okada to survive poverty at Behinase

The average living standard of communities like Behinase, Yaw Laga, Kwaku Afum, Kwaku Kre and Aboagyena in the Akuapem North constituency in the Eastern region are worsening as each day goes by due to the lack of proper healthcare facilities, Schools, good roads, safe drinking water among others.

Pregnat, feeding mothers and children are the ones who suffer the most as poverty is visibly pervasive among the populace.

Sadly, education which has the remedy of breaking the quagmire of poverty in these communities is in a mess.

School children in all these communities attend a Junior High School at Behinase R/C Basic School, however, a classroom block project initiated by the Headteacher of the school Kingsford Kalefe to start a JHS has been abandoned due to lack of support by the Akuapem North Assembly.

The absence of a school feeding program in the school also seems not to be attracting school children who come to school on empty stomach pushing most students to abandon school to engage in Okada for survival.

The Headteacher Kingsford Kalefe said “due to the unattractive nature of the school and parents unable to cater for their children, some students stop schooling even at the primary level such as basic four and six to rather engage in Okada business to look for money to take care of themselves. The teachers have taken upon themselves to go from one house to another and beg students to come to school”. He said

The headteacher believes extending the school feeding program to the school will help attract and retain Children in school. Currently, the population of the school stands at 150 comprising 87 boys and 63 girls.

“The school has not benefited from the school feeding program since his tenure of office as the headmaster of the school. As a result, most of the students stay in the house without attending school but to engage in activities that will earn them their daily meals”

The Headteacher Kingsford Kalefe bemoaned the lack of decent accommodation for teachers in the community to help whip up the interest of Children in school.

“Due to lack of accommodations, newly trained teachers and even national service personnel refuse accepting postings but I believe if we live in the community it will help us to increase the interest of the children in school”

Solomon Osabu, assembly member for Behinase electoral area is worried the community has been neglected leaving inhabitants predominantly farmers to live in abject poverty with their children.

He said as farming Communities, the poor roads are affecting transportation of farm produce to market centres. He said the condition has also made Okada an attractive means of transport hence children are abandoning school to join the business.

To ameliorate the plight of these farming Communities in Akuapem North, an NGO As I Grow has Organized Free Medical screening, donated learning materials to Behinase R/C Basic School, Awarded best performing students, donated farming equipment, second-hand clothes to the community all worth Ghc130,000.

Additionally, women in the communities were trained on the production of pastries as part of the economic empowerment strategies while awareness on teenage Pregnancy was created.

Chief Executive Officer of the NGO Debrah Bekoe Isaac said “after series of visitations, qualitative and quantitative surveillance surveys his outfit found out that these communities lack so many things in terms of education, farming equipment, education on economic Empowerment strategies, health support, lacks portable water and have high records in terms of teenage pregnancies. An immediate response to these multiple issues, As I Grow has to organize all these relief activities to salvage these communities”

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