Child Rights International (CRI) in partnership with Mondelez International Cocoa Life (MICL) has launched a mobility project for school children in Nwamase, in the West Akim Municipal Area.
The project, which is to be piloted in three districts – the Sekyere East District, in Ashanti Region, Ewutu Senya in the Central Region and the West Akim in the Eastern Region, is to provide means of transportation for children.
Mr Bright Appiah, Executive Director, CRI, said for the pilot programme, ten tricycles had been provided for the three districts .
He said the districts and communities for the pilot were selected based on the nearness of education facilities for children.
“We selected communities where there were no schools and students have to walk for over six kilometres to and from school daily to access education in nearby communities.”
Mr Appiah said the purpose was to assist them to have a means of transportation to get to school to avoid the difficulties they faced to access education, go to school early, get home early from school to do other things.
“We are doing this because we want to ensure that we enhance quality of education in rural communities. Most of these children do not have enough facilities and therefore do not have the zeal to seek education , so we are trying our best to ensure that we reduce the number of hours they walk to school so that they can participate effectively in school.”
On management and maintenance of the tricycles, Mr Appiah said they had engaged the communities, agreed on modalities and set up a committee to manage the whole transportation system.
“We have also developed a child protection protocol and management protocol, so what is expected of them and what it is supposed to be used for is clearly spelt out for them so that people do not use their own rules to operate them.”
He said they had also agreed on how to sustain it and CRI would support them to maintain them for a period of time. “We would monitor the financial flows and see how best they can maintain it and if there is any other alternative means of maintained, we would introduce it so that we do not allow the project to collapse.”
The Executive Director urged the communities and stakeholders to support the project to ensure that children remained in school.
Nana Okofo Apetu II, Country Lead, MICL, said one challenge of children of school going age in rural Ghana was mobility to school, hence the need for the project.
She said initially they rolled out a bicycle project where children were given bicycles to take to school but the younger ones did not benefit from that.
“So, the idea of the tricycle came up because some of the children commuted to school through that means. “We decided to provide a modified tricycle to make the children more comfortable, take them to school and protect them from the weather either sunshine or rain.”
Nana Apetu said “the main objective is for the children to go to school, but we realised that there are other challenges in the community so, we have made room for the tricycles to be used as ambulances, especially for pregnant women and in emergency cases, but not to be used as hearse.”
She said any other service aside the conveyance of children to school would be paid for.
“Once they start operating and making money and see the benefit, we hope that they would use the income generated to buy more.”
The Country Lead added that “ when we begin to see the benefit from the pilot and learn from this, then we will be able to role out in the other 18 districts that we operate in”.
Mr Seth Oduro Boadu, Municipal Chief Executive, West Akim Municipal Assembly, commended CRI and MICL for the project, saying it had come in to solve a major challenge within the Municipality.
He urged the communities to use the tricycles for the intended purposes.
Mr Boadu said he would engage the Committee and task the Assemblyman to ensure proper usage of the tricycles. “The Assembly would also design a plan to monitor and visit the various schools to ensure children are using the tricycles and coming to school regularly and on time, ”he said.