As one of the Young Ambassadors for the Send My Friend to School campaign, Emily Pemberton has just returned from a fact-finding trip to Ghana, where almost half a million children are missing out on school. As world leaders have been meeting at the World Education Forum in Korea to decide on new targets for global education, Emily reports on what it was like meeting young people being denied a future.
While I was in Ghana I met Lariba, in Bawku, in the remote north, where children have far from predictable daily routines. Lariba is only eleven years old but she told me how rather than go to school, she helps her mother collect cow dung to be sold as fertilizer to local farmers.
After that, she helps her mother around the house, including sweeping the front yard with a broom made of sticks. I helped her sweep and it put a strain on my back, and hers. Lariba told me, “I don’t know what I want to do in the future, but I know I don’t want to do what I’m doing now.” The reason for Lariba not going to school isn’t a lack of ambition, it is simply poverty – her mother, a widow with four children, can’t afford to buy her school shoes or school uniform.
World leaders decide future of education
Lariba is one of 444,000 children missing school in Ghana. The Millennium Development Goals aimed to achieve education for all by 2015, but having missed that target by a whopping 58 million, world leaders are now meeting in Korea to agree new targets for the next fifteen years.
The shocking fact is that Ghana is one of the success stories – since 2004 the percentage of children going to school has risen from 60% to 87%. But meeting people like Lariba showed that there is no success until every child is in school.
Girls Clubs encourage children to go to school
The most inspirational meetings in Ghana were with children taking the matter into their own hands. In Ninkogo Primary School, several students have formed a Girls Club, and every week they go into their community and persuade people to support local education and send their daughters to school. It is because of young people like these that I’m determined to keep fighting for every child that wants a better future. Watch the film of our trip here.
Help send your message to world leaders
Now we’re back from Ghana, our job is to tell as many teachers and students to join the Send My Friend to School campaign, so we can deliver a joint message to world leaders that good isn’t good enough – we can’t stop fighting until every single child is able to get the education they deserve.
Korea is just one of several meetings this year where decisions will be made that affect the world’s children. Already 4,000 schools are taking part, and by joining our voices together, we can make a loud enough noise so that MPs, the government and world leaders will have to take notice.
Photos: Nana Kofi Acquah/ActionAid