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Galamsey over Education: Some kids in mining communities are abandoning the classroom for gold

The menace of illegal mining is not only affecting the environment and water bodies but education in mining communities.

Truancy especially among boys is rife as they abandon class in search of gold.

Ibrahim Abubakar visited Bonkwaso; a mining community in the Ahafo Ano South-West District of the Ashanti region to assess the situation.

It’s 9.30 am on Monday and these two boys are busily searching for nuggets in an abandoned galamsey pit instead of being in school.

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12-year-old Alex who lives with his single father has to do this risky job to earn money before he goes to school.

“My father travelled yesterday to go and search for money but has since not returned. So I decided to come here to earn something to enable me to go to school the next day.

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“I often do this job to get money. We sometimes get 20 cedis or even up to 100 cedis in a day,” he narrated.

Alex says he does not wish to continue with this job because of the dangers that come with it.

David Boamah is also struggling to make ends meet by scavenging for gold.

The 13-year-old says he is compelled to do this due to poverty.

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“We don’t have money at home else I would’ve been in school by now. My mother takes care of someone’s farm but my dad has abandoned us. It’s been a long time since I saw him.

“I use the money I earn to cater for myself,” he shared.

These children are among many others who abandon the classroom and hunt for gold at the expense of their education.

This was evident when the news team visited the Bonkwaso D/A primary and junior high school.

Here, we gathered male pupils from Primary 5 to JHS 3 often absent themselves from class.

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“In our community here, parents do not prioritize the education of their children. They always force their children to go to the mining site. If you look at the register, you will realise the attendance of boys in class 4 up to JHS 3 is low. Some come twice a week and use the remaining days for mining activities,” an assistant headmaster of Bonkwaso D/A primary, Alex Boadi hinted.

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The District Education directorate has confirmed the incident of low attendance in schools in several mining communities.

The Head of the district security council, Joseph Frimpong Bonsu plans to engage the community on the issue.

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“I’ll go round and have engagement with the communities and advise parents on the need to ensure their children go to school,” he indicated.

Perhaps it is about time the Ghana Education Service (GES), the Ministry of Education, and stakeholders conscientize parents in these mining communities to prioritize the education of their children for a better future.

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