Builsa North school dropouts dare to hope!
By Francisca Kakra FORSON
It is not the first time that I had the opportunity to travel elsewhere in Ghana where life was a bit different from what was in my eyes. Indeed in 2012, I joined UNICEF go up North on field visits to some of their education and health projects in some communities in Tamale. It was a great learning experience for me as a young journalist to find out how communities collectively use their waste (faeces) as manure for their farms and avoid open defecation, or for young mothers to be encouraged to feed their infants with beans as an alternative protein.
The only down side to the trip was firstly, when the airline fly540 decided to send my luggage to Kumasi and fly me and the rest of the team of journalists and UNICEF staff (plus their luggage) to Tamale and secondly when a burglar broke into my room at Gariba Lodge and carried away all I had left, my backpack (containing my work tools). My purpose for the trip seemed defeated by these unexpected events and I had nothing, but the clothes I wore to bed in an empty hotel room screaming thief, shaken by the experience yet hoping I’d open my eyes at some point and it would all be over. The wheels had come off the bus!
Life does happen, especially when you least expected… and oh no, I will not give you the make lemonades cliché. #yatiiaabr3. Losing hope is never that an easy thing for many of us and in as much as close friends and family would empathise; soon everyone forgets about your “wahala” (troubles) and moves on. What happens after then? Do you eventually fall off or somehow find your way?
We drove to Bolgatanga and began our field visits to some of UNICEF Ghana’s education projects the following day as the flight to Tamale was delayed by 6 hours or so. UNCEF has been working with donors, USAID and the Ghana Education Service in one of its programmes; the School for Life, which is a Complementary Basic Education (CBE).
CBE is helping those children who may have dropped out of school or may have never attended, to find their way to the classroom, maybe a few years behind, but they are young and there is no race. This programme also caters for children who are not given a chance because of disabilities often associated with witchcraft and gender, with the aim of ensuring inclusive education.
The first stop was Kaasa Primary School of about 300 children, where we met specially trained teachers for the entire programme which runs for nine months. We were led by Alhassan Andani, who works at the CBE Builsa North district office as the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer in Charge of Literacy Classes.
“The objective of the complementary basic education is to give children who are out of school or who must have dropped out of school some training in literacy, literacy skills to enable them enter into the formal schools. We also aim at eradicating; eliminating or reducing early girl child marriages…we also aim at providing access to and relevant quality education to children in rural, underserved and hard to reach areas.”
At Kaase I met a wonderful little girl, Anyenlie who told me she loved to draw. I told her, “Well so do I.”
Now allow me to introduce to you a future president, Afli. That’s his dream.
This is a day I will forever hold dearly to my heart. The time spent with these adorable, bright children full of hope irrespective of real challenges. I am grateful to UNICEF Ghana and more especially little Elizabeth, Matherline, Anyeline, Priscilla, Lamisi, all the girls and Afli for daring to hope. Your beautiful smiles and laughter, innocence and determination rubbed off me. I am grateful to Mr Andani and Angela Asoakta of CBE Builsa North. God bless you.