19.02.2005 Regional News

Seventy-One street children graduate in Takoradi

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Takoradi, Feb.19 -GNA-Madam Sophia Horner-Sam, Acting Deputy Western Regional Minister, on Friday said the government is determined to tackle the issue of poverty and reduce it to the minimum under its Positive Change Chapter programme.

She was speaking at the graduation ceremony of 71 street children after vocational and employable skills training at the Sekondi-Takoradi opportunities Industrialisation Centre (OIC) at Takoradi.

The graduands were trained under the street children component of the Community Based Poverty Reduction Project.

Madam Horner-Sam said it is for this reason that the Community Based Rural Development Project has been put in place as a follow-up to the Village Infrastructure Project.

She said the equipping of street children with skills for living is an indication that the NPP Government is trying to tackle the problem of poverty from all angles.

Mrs. Mary Dei-Awuku, an Assistant Director at the Ministry of Manpower, Youth and Employment in-charge of the Street Children Project, said the Ministry had equipped 26,000 people with employable skills under the Skill Training Education Placement (STEP) Programme.

Mrs Dei-Awuku said the street children project is targeting some 2,500 street children at a cost of 2 point 3 million United States dollars. She said the project was being implemented in four pilot districts in the country namely Accra, Kumasi, Sekondi-Takoradi and Tamale. Mrs Dei-Awuku said the project was being funded with a World Bank Learning and innovative Loan Facility to Ghana.

She said the project was offering training in employable skills, placement in formal and non-formal schools and the promotion of health including HIV/AIDS awareness.

Mrs Dei-Awuku said the project would also improve community responsibility towards children through the sensitisation of the general public and target groups.

She said other sub-components of the project included Advocacy and Information dissemination and Policy Formulation for Street Children in Ghana.

Mrs Dei-Awuku said the uniqueness of the project was that 202 selected parents and guardians of street children were being provided with support through small enterprise development training.

She said this was to enable them to take up the responsibility of caring for their wards, either in employable skill training or in formal schools when the project ends.

Mrs Dei-Awuku said the project had just completed the training of 200 of such parents in the four selected districts and currently the Project Liaison Unit is in discussion with other stakeholders as to how the beneficiaries could be linked to existing credit facilities to expand their businesses.

Mr. Benjamin Akonu Otoo, Focal Person of the District Sub-Project Review and Approval Committee (DISPRAC) of the Shama-Ahanta East Metropolitan Assembly, said the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) had so far released a total amount of 1,649,267,853 cedis to service providers of the street children project in the Metropolis. He said the service providers included Mercy Foundation International, Centre for National Culture, GHACOE Women's Ministry, OIC and DEKMOS Fashion and Catering Service.

Mr. Otoo said the service providers have so far trained 177 street children in dressmaking, hair-plaiting, kentey weaving, bamboo craft, soap making and batik tie and dye, among others.

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