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NEWS

June 11, 2021

Education is the most powerful tool against child labor

Through the “Integrated School Feeding and Literacy Program,” funded by USDA/McGovern-Dole Program and led by WFP, AVSI encourages children to go to school instead of working in the field

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Children in Ivory Coast engage in the worst 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 to the situation and encourages children to go to school instead of working in the fields. 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 focus better. They learn how to read and write and have the opportunity for a better future.

"Studies have shown that where there is a school canteen, children remain enrolled," says Souleymane Kone, Regional Coordinator of School Canteens in Korhogo. "Children who regularly come to school, can eat at lunchtime. They don't have to find their parents for food during the day."

To ensure children stay in school, all actors are involved, including their parents and community members. The women’s group prepares the meals and runs the canteens. They take shifts so that they can also keep up with their work in the field. With the material available and books in school, children also can practice reading and follow their lessons better.

"School is good, for all children, boys, and girls. We should all go to school because school is important for you, for me and the future. It is the duty of children. It is what you must do when you are young – go to school," proudly explains Romaric Dao Kouite, a student in Toundiani, Ivory Coast.

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