By Patrick Biddah
Children of school going age in the mining towns of Damso and Kodiwohia in the Asutifi North district of the Ahafo region, are dropping out of school to engage in criminal activities.
This is because of the long distances to school which is as a result of the relocation of their schools arising out of activities of mining.
The end result, has negatively forced these rather brilliant children to drop out .
To fill the void, however, some of these children, have been forced to see the logistics of the mining companies as an avenue to get busy by stealing them.
The consequence of these criminal endeavour , is the arrest of the kids which has landed in their ultimate incarceration.
This is contained in a research findings released by Dr Yaw Asamoah of the Department of Geography of the University of Education, Winneba at a media engagement n Accra on August 31, 2023.
Organized by WACAM, the report was released at a forum to highlight the human rights and environmental concerns in the mining sector .
It focused on the mining- induced displacement’s impact on children’s education.
Ironically, however, these pupils dropping out of school to engage in robberies are known to be bright pupils who were doing well in class until the mining induced activities affected their education.
“ There was a little boy who always turned first in his class at Kodiwohia Basic School. On one of the days, the bus didn’t report, so he couldn’t come to school to write an exam. When he came to school the following day to write the rest of the papers, he placed the second position and so the boy stopped the school…Yes, he stopped schooling and he ended up in prison. I remember I called him, spoke with him, and even sent him to a counsellor to counsel him, but he had lost interest. So, he stayed at home for a couple of months. Before we realized he had gone to steal some of Newmont’s diesel, and was sent to court, and sent to a juvenile correctional centre”, the report revealed.
The negative impact of mining in this area by Newmont Ghana Limited, is not only producing robbers, but also exposing the children to all manner of respiratory diseases in view of the fact that they commute on dusty roads to catch a bus to school .
The report further indicated that in some cases, the children who wake up as early as 5:30 am and walk close to an hour to catch a bus to school, end up returning home because the bus does not show up to pick them.
In the event that the bus comes to pick them up, the report said they make it late to school by which time they miss early morning classes.
The situation is, however, compounded by the inability of the school to provide meals to the kids in view of the absence of an operational school feeding programme, leaving the kids to go hungry .
The report also showed that in all of these, the activities of Newmont, resulted in the demolition of some public schools and its associated displacement.
For example, 1 Local Authority (L/A) primary school which was established in 1991, with 58 pupils at Kwakyekrom was demolished.
Aside from that there was the demolition of three other L/A schools, consisting of a kindergarten, a primary school which was also set up in 1984.
In addition to this, a junior secondary school which was established in 2002 at Kodiwohia with 190 pupils was also demolished.
To reverse this trend , Dr Yaw Adu, recommended an agreement between Newmont and the District Assembly to normalize the use of shuttle busses for transportation of the kids .
He was also of the view that immediate steps should be taken to begin a school feeding programme to end starvation among the kids