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17.08.2005 Regional News

Assemblies asked to help promote the welfare of children

GNA

Bolgatanga, Aug 17, GNA - Organisations working for the welfare of poor children in the Upper East Region on Tuesday appealed to the Municipal and District assemblies to enforce bye-laws that would make parents take responsible for their children.

They asked the Assemblies to help them put up recreational centres to engage the children after school and stop them from running back to the streets.

'Youth Alive', a Non-Governmental Organisation in the region, which works towards giving street children a good life, organised the meeting in Bolgatanga for all stakeholders in children's welfare to deliberate on how to collaborate and make their work beneficial to the children. They said under normal circumstances, poor children had a lot of potential to do well at school or in trade but that they only went to the streets because they did not get food at home.

They held that the region had the highest number of street children due to cultural practices that allowed some men to neglect their biological children because they could not claim them as their own.

Some of the cultural practices that impede child development include the 'Yinye saba' or 'family lovers', where two distant members of the same family are allowed to have sexual relationships but cannot marry, and older women who do not have children marrying younger men to produce children without paternal responsibility by the men. Another such custom is one where a family that has only daughters asks one of them not to marry but stay home and have children to carry on the family name.

Most of these children, they said, start to fend for themselves at an early age, thereby resorting to begging and menial jobs in the cities in order to sustain themselves or pay their way through school.

Mr Robert Alagskomah, Regional Co-ordinator of 'Youth Alive,' said 84 of such children under the care of his organisation, were in school, while 89 had been attached to master artisans to learn a trade. He expressed concern that some teachers had refused to admit the poor pupils into their schools with excuses that they had not made the required grades.

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