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14.06.2005 Education

Zaare Youth Action Group Raises community awareness in education.

GNA

Bolgatanga, June 14, GNA - Mr. Boniface Gambila, Upper East Regional Minister, at the weekend called on parents in the region to refrain from using poverty as an excuse for not sending their children to school. "Considering the ongoing global trends, you have no choice but to give every child an appreciable level of formal education for your own good and for the benefit of our dear country," he said.

Mr. Gambila was speaking at the annual Educational Week celebration initiated by the Youth Action on Education in Zaare (YAEZA), a private community-based organisation in the Bolgatanga Municipality. The event is held yearly to sensitise the people of Zaare community on the importance of educating their children, and the role of community members in that direction. The occasion is also used to award hardworking students from the area, in appreciation of their outstanding academic achievements.

The Regional Minister pointed out that most families in the area possess livestock and are capable of selling either a goat or a guineafowl to meet the educational needs of their wards. "Rather than spending that money on "pito" and beer, I urge you to invest it in educating your wards to give them a better tomorrow."

Mr. Gambila indicated that considering the country's rapidly increasing population and the limited resources available, government alone could no longer absorb the education budget. He called on the people, therefore, to embrace the concept of community participation and partnership as it was the only feasible option. He urged chiefs, community elders and parents to attach the utmost importance to matters of education, and to support government's efforts towards the promotion of education in their communities. He also called on teachers to refrain from charging exorbitant fees for providing extra tuition to students, calling the practice an act of corruption.

The Regional Minister used the occasion to explain the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) policy to the people, and appealed to them to pay their contributions to enable them to access good quality and affordable healthcare. Mr. Victor Abagre, a Director at the Municipal Education Office who deputised for Mr. Anthony Aziabah, Bolgatanga Municipal director of Education, called on local communities to provide accommodation for teachers to encourage them to stay and raise the standard of education in the area.

"No matter how deprived a community is, teachers would be willing to serve there if the residents respect and treat them well," he declared. Mr. Abagre called for an end to conflicts between Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA) and School management Committees in some parts of the Municipality, saying that it was only through collaboration and teamwork that PTA, SMC, teachers and parents would be able to instil discipline and improve the quality of education in schools.

In a welcoming speech, the Organiser of YAEZA, Mr. Timothy Atangosigo Amason, said the organisation was formed three years ago to place the promotion of sustainable quality formal education on top of the community's agenda. It also aims at bringing to a halt the exodus of children of school-going age from the area to the southern part of the country to engage in menial jobs. He said YAEZA had designed a programme of activities for implementation towards the upliftment of education in the community. These include educational campaigns to sensitise community members, scholarship schemes and financial assistance to students' annual awards to deserving students and health education.

Mr. Amason announced that as a result of the organisation's educational campaigns since its inception in 2002, about 80 per cent of the community's residents had now realised the importance of formal education, and that about 25 per cent of pupils who had dropped out of school had gone back to the classroom. He indicated that YAEZA's programmes were being funded from contributions of 2000 cedis per woman and 5000 cedis per man in the community. These contributions, however, had become irregular due to growing poverty levels and hunger among members of the community, he said, and appealed to the Municipal Assembly, NGOs and philanthropists to come to the aid of the project.

Twenty-six outstanding students from Zaare and other neighbouring communities received awards for excellent academic performance in their various educational institutions. They received prizes ranging from educational grants, exercise books, pens, certificates and cash. An appeal for funds yielded approximately 2.1 million cedis. The Regional Minister pledged 10 mattresses, 10 blankets, exercise books and an unspecified cash donation to YAEZA and commanded it for its initiative.

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