From Herding Cattle to Senior School Prefect: How Education Changes Lives
posted by: Justice Atiim on February 1, 2019
Through one of RAINS’ accelerated learning programs for out-of-school children, Gariba Musah’s life has changed.
Because of it, Musah, 18, is now an incredibly determined student who takes his studies very seriously. He eagerly learns as much as he can and aspires to continue his education. His diligence, hard work, and overall kindness earned him the position of School Prefect, voted in by his peers because of his leadership qualities. He explains that he stays motivated “because if you keep on studying you will know a lot of things.”
It wasn’t always like this.
Musah grew up shepherding cattle in the Daboya no.2 community in the Northern Region of Ghana. His job was to take care of them, taking them to the bush to eat and to water sources to drink. His family did not understand the importance of education and he did not go to school. “Life was difficult, at that time. I could not read, I could not write,” he said.
In the Northern Region of Ghana, out-of-school children such as Musah are unfortunately common, a child is four times more likely not to have attended school than in other parts of the country. School enrollment and retainment remain a significant problem, with nearly 30 percent of school-going-aged children having never attended school. Reasons for this vary, including large family sizes, poverty, malnutrition, and—as in Musah’s case—child labour.
As a member of the Fulani group, the traditional path for him would have been to continue herding cattle. However, while visiting his Uncle in Accra, Musah saw other children studying and going to school. “I asked myself, why? I am a person, I am a human being–why don’t I go to school?”
When he returned to the North, he hoped for the opportunity to pursue education. When RAINS’ Childhood Regained Project started in his community, he was identified and enrolled into the one of the centres of the accelerated learning programme at the age of 13 years.
“I asked myself, why? I am a person, I am a human being–why don’t I go to school?”
For a period of nine months, the program is designed to help children just like Musah have a second chance at education. Volunteer community-based facilitators teach children basic literacy and numeracy skills in their mother tongue. For the many out-of-school children in Northern Ghana, these programmes are critical for them to catch up on their education and have the same opportunities as in-school children. After completion, they are transitioned into formal education or vocational training.
While Musah experienced initial backlash from his family, it didn’t last long. “They didn’t know what education [was] all about. But…now, I think all the members are now supporting me,” he explained. Part of RAINS’ Childhood Regained Project was to raise community awareness on the rights and importance of education to rally support from families for their children’s education.
Indeed, Musah’s parents are very proud of him now, and do what they can to support his education. “They will help me with everything that they have…they will pay for [my books], buy school uniforms, things like that,” he smiled.
As stories such as Musah’s demonstrate, it is imperative to continue furthering education in Northern Ghana. As it stands, there are too many children out of school or not receiving quality education. Thus, RAINS will continue to work in advancing education in rural communities and changing lives of children like Musah.
The Childhood Regained Project was designed to tackle the high levels of child exploitative labour in rural communities Northern Region of Ghana, one of the poorest regions in Ghana with some of the highest levels of child labour linked to lower rates of school completion. The project ran between 2011 to 2018 was in partnership with Hope for Children and funding by Comic Relief. At the end of the project over 1,071 out-of-school children were enabled to either progress to mainstream school or vocational skills training.