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Children prefer galamsey to school

Children prefer galamsey to school

For years, there has been discussion about illegal gold mining, known locally as galamsey, with pollution of water bodies and environmental destruction always taking centre stage.

However, it appears that there is a serious component of the threat that is also having a ripple effect on the country but has been left out of the discussion.

This is related to the impact of illegal mining on education. investigates how children in mining communities prioritise galamsey over education in this report.


Several interventions, including Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE), capitation grants, free feeding programmes, free school uniforms, and free SHS, have been and are being implemented by governments across the country to increase school enrollment, attendance, and academic performance.

This is in line with efforts to meet the SDG 4 target of ensuring universal access to quality education for all by 2030.

Furthermore, the 1992 Constitution strengthens the provision of education as a basic right for all Ghanaians. According to Article 25(a), “all persons shall have the right to equal educational opportunities and facilities, and basic education shall be free, compulsory, and available to all in order to achieve the full realisation of that right.”

However, increasing student drop-out rates in several mining communities are undermining Ghana’s success in increasing enrolment.

Also read: Chiefs are contributing to the galamsey problem – Asantehene


Hundreds of children are abandoning school to work in mining areas such as Peminase in the Juaben municipality of Ashanti Region.

The small mining town of around 800 people is struggling to deal with the negative impact of illegal activity on education.

Only 12 of the 30 Form 3 students at Peminase M/A JHS were in class studying for their Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), which was only two days away when the news team visited.

The majority of the 18 students absent today can be found working at the mining site, according to teacher Kwabena Asiamah.

Peminase M/A JHS is led by Opoku Clement Sebastian.

“The school’s enrollment is consistently declining because of the rise in illegal mining activities. We used to have a population of close to 200 some five years ago, but currently, we only have 83 because the school serves other neighbouring communities. Even with 83 students, the male students’ truancy rate is concerning.

Opoku Clement, Headteacher, Peminase M/A JHS

Six school-age children, ranging in age from 13 to 17, are busy working at the mining site rather than attending class.

Although there are several reasons why these kids work in mining, their parents’ financial constraints are the main one.

“With the help of three of my friends, we have stopped attending school and are now working as illegal miners. We use the money we make to support our needs and our parents’ needs. “I hope to continue my education someday,” a 14-year-old JHS 2 student said.

Adusei, a 15-year-old, says that because our parents lack the resources to support us, “this is the only work in this community and we involve ourselves.”

He claims that the job depends on luck because “each of us earns 700 cedis a day on a good day.”

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), there are more kids working in the mining industry. In areas of the Western, Central, and Ashanti regions, thousands of children are involved in gold mining activities, which is, in the words of the organisation, “a serious violation of children’s rights that puts children’s health and safety at risk and deprives them of an education.”

The worst-case scenario, in which some of the students perish while mining, is more worrisome.

“Within the last three years, at least six of our students have perished at the mining site. However, the majority of them still appear to go to the site to work, despite this, said a visibly concerned Mr. Sebastian.

With the crackdown on illegal miners, things have slightly improved at Yapese in the Ashanti Region’s Bosome Freho District.

While some of the kids are back in class, others are not.

Asare Bediako

Asare Bediako, the chairman of the management committee for Yapese Methodist Primary School, stated that “parents must ensure that their children have attended school. Parents must make sure their children attend school because the government will do its part to provide the necessary infrastructure and a supportive learning environment, and teachers will also fulfil their role as educators. Some parents are adamant, despite our repeated attempts to persuade them of the importance of prioritising their children’s education.

Intervention by Peminase community leaders

The prevalence of these illegal mining operations has caused Peminase’s educational system to regress.

To reverse this troubling trend, the community’s traditional authority and unit committee have imposed sanctions on parents who allow their children to engage in galamsey at the expense of their education.

“Any child caught doing galamsey instead of attending school will be fined GH1,500, and the concession owner will be fined GH2,000.” Nana Kofi Owusu II, caretaker chief and Akwamuhene of the area, stated, “We want our children to be educated for a better future.”

The unit committee members have requested police assistance in moving to sites and arresting school-age children who are involved in mining at the expense of their education.

“Some parents are obstinate because their children bring them money when they go to school and mine.” As a result, they are more concerned with money than with the education of the children. We’ll go after them soon because we can’t let this go on. “Education at the primary and secondary school levels is compulsory,” Peminase Unit Committee Vice Chairman Kwasi Owusu Sekyere explained.

Kwasi Owusu Sekyere

The district and regional education directors have acknowledged the problem but have yet to comment on it.

Ghana is a signatory to the international convention on the rights of the child, which states that every child of school age has the right to an education.

To give meaning to the access and participation component of the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education programme, all stakeholders in the education sector must work together to keep children of school age in the classroom.

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