Partnership for progress

30/09/2016

Today, we celebrate the partnership-working arrangement between Children of Potentials International and Centre for Children’s Affairs Malawi (CEAF). This forms part of the two organisations’ desire to reach and support disadvantage children everywhere to grow into a confident and independent adulthood.

Signing off the memorandum of understanding for his organisation, the National Coordinator of Centre for Children’s Affairs Malawi (CEAF), Moses Delvin Busher said, “We are doing this to protect and empower the next generation of children. We are playing our part to ensure that our common vision for children is realised before our generation expires”.

Already, collaborative programmes have been identified, including abuse of albinism and child marriages in Malawi.

Ghana Update: Over half of pupils can’t read

A recent research conducted across the country in various schools particularly at the lower primary levels indicates that about 51 percent of the pupils cannot read in both English language and the other local dialects. Only two percent of the research respondents can, however, read to understand and answer questions from passages in textbooks.

The Ashanti Regional Director of Education, Mary Owusu Achiaw made this known at a durbar at Sanso in the Obuasi Municipality of the Ashanti Region. She highlighted some factors identified by the Ghana Education Service through its periodic monitoring to be accounting for the poor reading habits of pupils. These include the non-motivating attitude of teachers towards reading as well as the limited reading periods on timetables of schools.

Another factor observed with worry by the Regional Director of Education is the hoarding of reading books donated by international donor agencies such as the UK Department for International Department, by the authorities of some schools.
This, she noted, had caused such agencies and organizations to withdraw support in this direction. Mrs. Owusu Achiaw, therefore, admonished authorities of schools exhibiting such behavior to put an immediate stop to it. She again emphasized the need for teachers to adopt new techniques to motivate students to read especially at the primary level.

A retired educationist, Mrs. Sophia Awortwe noted that through continuous reading, pupils would become knowledgeable on a wide range of relevant issues to manage for instance the environment, which according to her is gradually losing its richness due to illegal human activities and the effects of climate change. She, therefore, advised parents and guardians to encourage their wards to read books regularly when at home instead of allowing them to watch television programs which have no good moral values.

 

January 2016 Source: GBC

Under-five malaria fatality rate drops in Ghana

The rate of fatality of malaria cases among Ghanaian children under-five years of age has dropped from 14.4 per cent in 2000 to 0.6 per cent in 2012.

This means that, for every 1,000 children under-five admitted to hospital with malaria, 850 survived in 2000 while in 2012, the number of those who survived was 994.

Dr. Felicia Amoo-Sakyi, Malaria Case Management Programme Officer for the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) disclosed this at a press briefing ahead of the National World Malaria Day celebration scheduled to take place in Wa on Friday.

A new malaria control intervention known as the Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC) would be launched by the Ministry of Health (MoH)/Ghana Health Service (GHS) as part of the celebration of the day.

The SMC, formerly known as Intermittent Preventive Treatment, involves intermittent administration of full treatment courses of an anti-malaria medicine during the malaria season to prevent malaria illness.

Targeted at the Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions, the SMC’s objective is to provide protection against clinical illness throughout the period of malaria risk.

Dr. Amoo-Sakyi said issues considered in deciding to adopt the SMC intervention include the seasonality of malaria transmission and rainfall patterns, the incidence of malaria and the potential delivery mechanisms among others.

She said the target areas for implementation were areas where transmission was more than 60 per cent of clinical malaria cases occurring during a short period of about four months.

She said the clinical attack rate of malaria was greater than 0.1 per cent attack per transmission season in the target age group.

Dr. Amoo-Sakyi noted that the intervention covered children between the ages of 3-59 months and that, during the campaign, there shall be free distribution of Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets (LLITNs) at primary schools and health centers among others.

She said there would also be a scaling up of parasite-based diagnosis to all age groups at all levels countrywide, using the Test, Treat and Track initiative (the T3 Formula).

Dr. Amoo-Sakyi said defeating malaria requires the engagement of a number of sectors outside health, including finance, education, defense, environment, mining industry, tourism, local government and the media.

Source: GNA

Students join the fight against malaria

Students of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) have joined forces with the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN) to eliminate malaria in Ghana.

The move is to widen the platform for advocacy communication towards the elimination of the disease.

A seven-member student executive to steer the affairs of the AMMREN -GIJ chapter has, therefore, been sworn in to serve as agents of change in the malaria elimination efforts.

Gains

Speaking at the inauguration of the executive in Accra, a Programme Officer of the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), Ms Vivian Aubyn, said in spite of the gains made in the efforts to eliminate malaria from Ghana, illnesses due to malaria were still high.

According to her, rural, hard to reach areas, residents of urban poor communities and people in the northern sector of the country are the most affected.

She said the NMCP had collaborated with stakeholders to draft a new strategic plan, starting from 2014 to 2018, that would focus on accelerated control and concentrate efforts in the high transmission areas in the Upper West, Upper East and Northern regions.

Net distribution

So far, Ms Aubyn said bed nets distribution in antenatal clinics and schools (targeting pregnant women and children less than five years) had increased coverage and helped in preventing malaria.

“I must say that the distribution of nets in schools started in July last year and has been embraced by teachers, communities and schoolchildren to the extent that the NMCP office has been inundated with telephone calls,” she said.

She pointed out that the era when every fever case was treated as malaria was over and that the new policy was to diagnose all suspected cases under the test, treat and track strategy.

“This requires all suspected fever cases to be tested and only cases with positive malaria test results treated with anti-malaria drugs,” he said.

Behavioural in School change

A researcher at the Dodowa Health Research Centre, Dr Alberta Amu, advocated the accelerated distribution of insecticide treated nets to all age groups to achieve universal access.

She also said there was the need for behavioural change communication strategies which would educate individuals on the need to sleep in treated nets to prevent malaria.

“Malaria elimination in Ghana is feasible and doable. It would require team effort and long-term consistent commitment from all stakeholders,” Dr Amu said.

GIJChapter

The Executive Secretary of AMMREN, Mrs Charity Binka, stated that malaria was a major public health problem in Ghana and a development issue.

She said the AMMREN-GIJ chapter sought to attract young journalists to advocate the post-2015 Millennium Development Goal agenda of eradicating malaria.

The Rector of GIJ, Mr David Newton, said the institute had designed a new course in health communication, which is awaiting approval from the National Accreditation Board (NAB), to increase health reporting and communication.

68% of primary 6 pupils can’t read

A survey conducted by World Vision Ghana has revealed that only 32 percent of children who have completed primary six in the West Gonja District are able to read and write with comprehension.

This abysmal performance falls below the national average of 35.3 percent that government and other development partners are collaborating to turn around.

This follows an earlier survey by the Ghana Education Service (GES) which showed that 98 percent of primary two pupils in various schools in the country can neither read nor understand English or any Ghanaian language properly.

World Vision Ghana’s Programme Manager in charge of West Gonja District, Paul Azeka Asia said his outfit used the Functional Literacy Tool (FLAT) to assess the performance of class six pupils who gained admission into Junior High School one.

Source: citifmonline.com  23 September 2014

World Malaria Day, 25 April 2014

Invest in the future. Defeat malaria

Global efforts to control and eliminate malaria have saved an estimated 3.3 million lives since 2000, reducing malaria mortality rates by 42% globally and 49% in Africa. Increased political commitment and expanded funding have helped to reduce malaria incidence by 25% globally, and 31% in Africa.

But we are not there yet. Malaria still kills an estimated 627 000 people every year, mainly children under 5 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2013, 97 countries had on-going malaria transmission.

Every year, more than 200 million cases occur; most of these cases are never tested or registered. Emerging drug and insecticide resistance threaten to reverse recent gains.

If the world is to maintain and accelerate progress against malaria, in line with Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6, and to ensure attainment of MDGs 4 and 5, more funds are urgently required.

The theme for 2014 and 2015 is: Invest in the future. Defeat malaria

Goal: energize commitment to fight malaria

World Malaria Day was instituted by WHO Member States during the World Health Assembly of 2007. It is an occasion to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria prevention and control. It is also an opportunity:

  • for countries in affected regions to learn from each other’s experiences and support each other’s efforts;
  • for new donors to join a global partnership against malaria;
  • for research and academic institutions to flag scientific advances to both experts and the general public; and
  • for international partners, companies and foundations to showcase their efforts and reflect on how to further scale up interventions.

Source: WHO

Mosquitoes becoming immune to repellent

A study by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine shows that one of the most commonly used insect repellents worldwide,commonly known as DEET, seems to be losing its potency against mosquitoes.

Mosquito Repellent -spray

Losing the war on mosquitoes?

Although DEET has been shown to be extremely effective, recent studies have revealed that certain individual insects are unaffected by its presence.

The study published in Journal of Plos One, a US publication, recently made available to the public, said a genetic basis for this has been shown in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

Researchers examined host-seeking behaviour and electrophysiological responses of A. aegypti after pre-exposure to DEET.

The study said the change in behaviour as a result of pre-exposure to DEET has implications for the use of repellents and the ability of mosquitoes to overcome them.

However, despite its common use over the last 60 years, and evidence that it could repel 100 per cent of mosquitoes in the laboratory, semi-field and field tests, there are several studies suggesting that certain individual insects are not repelled by DEET.

The study said repeated exposure of mosquitoes to a repellent was likely to occur in situations where more than one host may be treated with a repellent, and mosquitoes feed multiple times during their lifespan.

In order to investigate the effect of pre-exposure to DEET on a. aegypti, the study repeatedly exposed female mosquitoes to DEET and determined their subsequent behavioural and/or the electrophysiological responses.

Four separate experiments were performed to determine whether pre-exposure to DEET affected the behavioural and/or olfactory responses of mosquitoes to DEET when applied to a human arm, or when applied to an artificial heat source (to remove the effects of human volatiles).

The research examined whether female a. aegypti mosquitoes would change their behaviour when tested twice with a DEET treatment on a human arm.

It said mosquito responses were determined using an arm-on-cage repellency assay, during which mosquitoes, which attempted to probe despite the presence of DEET were considered insensitive.

The research said mosquitoes probing in response to DEET on an arm when first exposed were removed from the experiment, thus, mosquitoes probing on second exposure to DEET were all initially sensitive to DEET and had altered their behaviour.

It found that previously, DEET-sensitive females, which were exposed again to an arm treated with DEET, landed and probed significantly more on the second DEET exposure than mosquitoes tested for the first time with DEET, or tested with DEET following exposure to a control arm.

The study noted, however, that the proportion of mosquitoes probing on second exposure to DEET was still lower than the response to the untreated arm.

It said mosquitoes did not change their behaviour to the untreated control arm if pre-exposed to it.

The researchers sought to understand how repellents work and how mosquitoes detect them, hence they could better work out ways to get around the problem when they do become resistant to repellents.

Ghana -one million children out of school

growing number of children out of school

A growing number of children out of school

Challenging Heights, a child rights advocacy organisation in Ghana, is warning of a “very bleak” future for about one million Ghanaian children who are out of school.

According to Challenging Heights, the children, aged between five and 15, could be found across the country selling on the streets or engaging in some sort of child labour at times when they should be in school.

Speaking to The Mirror in Accra, the President of the organisation, Mr James Kofi Annan, described the development as “worrisome”, saying, “We are wasting the future of these children.”

Mr Annan said the presence of children on the streets at times when they should be in school contravened Act 560 of the Children’s Act of 1998 which mandates parents – whether single or married – to educate their children.

“There is no excuse for any parent to refuse to educate his or her children because the 1992 Constitution makes it compulsory for all children to access at least basic education,” he added.

He called for urgent and decisive action to get the children off the streets and enrol them in schools, a move which he said was critical to safeguarding their future.

He said many of the children would resort to crime and engage in activities detrimental to the national interest if concrete measures were not taken to educate them.

He stressed the need to sensitise and build the capacity of parents to enable them to educate their children and ensure social protection for them.

Mr Annan called on government agencies to begin enforcing the right of children to education by arresting and prosecuting parents who refused to send their children to school.

He also emphasised the need to improve educational infrastructure across the country, so that more children could be accommodated.

Commenting on the concerns expressed by Challenging Heights, the Director of Public Affairs at the Ministry of Education, Mr Paul Kofi Krampah, expressed regret that many children were still not attending school, in spite of the numerous social programmes put in place by the government to make basic education accessible and affordable.

He said the government had played its part by providing free education, free books, free school uniforms and free food at the basic level in order to make basic education affordable to even deprived Ghanaians.

Mr Krampah said the removal of 40 per cent of ‘schools under trees’ and the abolition of the shift system were all efforts aimed at making basic education more accessible to children.

He said parents whose children were not in school lacked an understanding of the importance of education and called on the relevant agencies to educate such parents in that regard.

Mr Krampah said one effective way of getting children off the streets would be for metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to enact bye-laws that would compel parents to educate their children of school age.

That, he said, would enable the assemblies to keep track of children in their jurisdictions and ensure that they went to school.

The Department of Social Welfare (DSW), which is mandated to enforce the right of children to education, as guaranteed in the Children’s Act of 1998, said it was concerned that many children were not attending school.

The Director of the DSW, Mr Stephen T. Adongo, said his outfit had not been able to enforce children’s right to education because of the lack of resources.

“We have the mandate, but the resources and structures must be in place,” he said.

He said the DSW needed resources to educate parents, children and communities on the benefits of acquiring education.

He said shelters were also needed to temporarily house children who had been picked up from the streets.

Mr Adongo called on the government to provide the resources needed by the DSW to implement those projects, saying, “There is no future on the streets.”

“There should be commitment to this cause. We should recognise the importance of social development and make social protection a priority in this country,” he added.

He also called for an improvement in the quality of education in the country, a move which he said would make going to school more appealing to parents and children.

Mr Adongo said efforts must also be made to create more jobs, as the high unemployment rate in the country was a disincentive to many children who would like to go to school.

Source: graphic.com.gh

Teenage Pregnancy and Girl's Education.

Teenage Pregnancy Should Not End Girl’s Education.

When a girl falls pregnant, her life turns upside down. Through shame and stigma, bullying and harassment, she is forced to withdraw from school. Nine months later, when she has the option to return, she faces the same hostile environment. She wonders how she will care for her child.

If she does make it back to school, she finds it difficult due to the time and learning she has missed. Ultimately discouraged, she withdraws from school, and fails to reach her academic potential. She fails to train in the profession she badly yearns for to enable her secure employment and she remains poor for her whole life.

In this story, there is a boy, too. His life continues as normal. He continues to go to school. Ultimately, he graduates. He has the opportunity to go to college, or university, to get a job. He becomes a lawyer, the job he always wanted. Just as it should be. The right to education is a universal human right. Every child, male or female, has the right to basic education. Despite this, a number of female students across Ghana, and indeed, around the world, are being denied the right to education because they become pregnant.

In Ghana, this denial of education comes in two main forms; direct and indirect. For instance, an example of direct denial of education occurred in March of 2011. The Daily Graphic reported that 17 pregnant students were dismissed from Aduman Senior High School when it was discovered, after forced testing, that they were pregnant.

While direct denial of education occurs, it is indirect denial of education that is far more common in Ghanaian schools. This can take many forms. Girls who become pregnant often face a lack of support, even outright hostility, if they choose to remain at school. Many schools turn a blind eye to, or even encourage, school environments that are not conducive to continuing education for pregnant students.

This can include physical barriers, such as bathroom facilities and classroom equipment, or emotional barriers, such as bullying, shame, teasing and intimidation. The Girls Education Unit of the Ghana Education Service, in 2008, identified teenage pregnancy as one of the major challenges to girl-child school retention. The Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) also recognised the link between teenage pregnancy and school dropouts in Ghana in their 2001 report on the situation of girls’ education in sub-Saharan Africa.

Denying pregnant girls access to education is a denial of their fundamental human rights. And if that isn’t reason enough to lower school drop-out rates, girls who stay in school are able to make a better contribution – to their families, to their community, and ultimately, to the economic development of Ghana.

‘The Girl Effect,’ an international non-governmental organisation (NGO), reports that “when a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.” But the benefits can be far more subtle than that. For instance, “an extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 per cent. An extra year of secondary school increases it to 15 to 25 per cent.” We are talking about real, not imagined, benefits to the girl, her community and wider society.

The Human Rights Advocacy Centre (HRAC) is currently undertaking research into gender-based violence in schools in Ghana under a project funded by STAR-Ghana. While interviewing teachers about pregnant students, researchers were surprised by the level of misinformation, with several teachers insisting that pregnant students were not allowed to attend school.

This is, in fact, in direct contradiction to the Ghanaian constitution (Article 25), which states that basic education (two years of kindergarten, seven years of primary education and three years of junior high school) is compulsory. This is known as FCUBE – Free, Compulsory Universal Basic Education, and is a cornerstone in the efforts to protect and promote the human rights of children. Even more commonly, some teachers indicated that while pregnant students were allowed to attend school, they simply chose not to due to their own shame or embarrassment, or due to the judgement and actions of their peers at school. A student shared that this behaviour was common when students fall pregnant – if “they come to school they feel humiliated. They can’t come to school because we will laugh at them.” At best, headmasters and teachers are complicit in allowing these environments to take hold at their schools. At worst, they play an active part in discouraging pregnant students from attending school by contributing to these unsupportive environments.

HRAC researchers spent time interviewing and talking with students of all different ages from three target districts. Many students had the same misconceptions as their teachers – that students who fall pregnant are unable to attend school. One student shared her belief that girls were most affected by gender-based violence, as “if the boys sleep with you, then you get pregnant, [the] boy will go to school, and you will be in the house.”

Teachers who took part in the research assured researchers that students were able to return to school after they had given birth. However, the reality of this occurring is questionable. In the case that it does occur, it is far from being an ideal outcome. Students will have been away from school for many months and in this time, fall behind. A gap can form that is often impossible to bridge, and in some cases, students become discouraged and leave school again.

Research revealed, however, that school drop-out is just one element of a problem in Ghana that at its very ugliest can result in even more severe repercussions than discontinued education. One of the more horrifying stories that was revealed during HRAC’s research involved the rape of female students by a school administrator. Multiple students became pregnant as a result of being raped (the exact number was unclear from research). When these students terminated their pregnancies they were dismissed from the school as punishment.

According to Ghanaian law, cases of rape or defilement are exempted from the general illegality of abortion, and there was no ground for the dismissal of the students. The Administrator has never faced the legal consequences of his actions because he has run away. As a result of being raped, these students have been physically and emotionally scarred, and denied their right to education.

In order to stem school drop-out rates, the issue of teenage pregnancy needs to be addressed. But simply dismissing students who become pregnant (or who have abortions), approaches this issue from the wrong angle. And that angle, often times, seems to be placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of the girl who becomes pregnant. It is she who is punished, dismissed from school and denied the right to an education, and in many cases, a prosperous future.

While pregnancy at such a young age is troubling, students should undoubtedly be assisted to continue their education. Becoming pregnant should not result in the end of a girl’s education, or a disruption in her schooling. While the challenges are many, she should be encouraged and assisted to complete her education. Students will then be able to create a life for themselves and for their children.

This issue also needs to be addressed at its heart. The prevalence of teenage pregnancies needs to be reduced through sex education and promotion of safe sex. Despite the continued message of abstinence, it is clear that some students are simply not taking the advice.

It is important to ensure that students know how to take precautions against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Increased sex education, and the creation of supportive environments for pregnant students – where bullying and harassment are not tolerated, will help to ensure that female student drop-out rates are reduced in the country.

Some moves to reduce the impact of pregnancy on school drop-out rates are already being made. The Ghana Education Service is currently developing a Girls Education Re-entry Policy to ensure that girls who become pregnant can resume their education after they give birth.

Furthermore, organisations like the Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC) continue to advocate for girls’ education, including raising awareness about incidences where girls have been dismissed from school due to pregnancy, in breach of the 1992 Constitution. HRAC strongly supports these initiatives and advocacy work, and encourages their continuation. Through these efforts, the girl, who remains poor her whole life, and the boy, who faces a life of possibilities, will finally have the same chance at a future.

Taniele Gofers

The writer is the Communications Officer – Human Rights Advocacy Centre, Ghana

Grand Inaugural Celebration

Children of Potentials International (UK) will be organising its Inaugural Celebration on Saturday 30th June 2012 at the Auditorium, Northumberland Community School –behind Tottenham Hot Spurs Football Stadium. To grace the occasion would be VIPs, Stars and other dignitaries. Highlights of the event would be Fundraising, Grand Raffle Draw, Cat-Walk, Wine Sampling and lots of music.

Request for our Inauguration Leaflets

If you want to participate in, sponsor or promote the event either as an individual or organisation, we will be happy to hear from you. Or perhaps you want to, donate toward our good causes or become a member. Just take a minute to complete our contact page.

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