Children in Ivory Coast engage in the worse forms of child labor, including harvesting cocoa and coffee. Although school is mandatory for children ages 6 to 16, approximately 23% of primary school-aged children and 41% of secondary-school-aged children are not enrolled in school, with the highest rates in the country’s North, Northwest, and West regions.
“In Ivory Coast, we have to force children to go to school. Sometimes, we even must get them in the field. Once, I had to ask one of my inspectors and a teacher to come with me to the field. As a result, we found 15 children working and brought them back to school,” explains Sylvain Douhouretagoh, Inspector of Primary Education in Korhogo.
AVSI, through the “Integrated School Feeding and Literacy Program,” funded by USDA/McGovern-Dole Program and led by WFP, responds and prevents children from working in the field instead of going to school. In 613 schools in Ivory Coast, the WFP has rehabilitated school canteens, delivered food, and trained women’s groups to provide at least one hot meal a day to 639,075 children. AVSI has also been training teachers, creating, and distributing mobile libraries with books, textbooks, and school material, and ensuring students are at the forefront of the classroom environment. At school, if children do not go hungry, they can better focus. They learn how to read and write and have the opportunity for a better future.