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This chapter has been organised around themes such as overview of the study, background of the study, purpose of the study and its significance, the objectives to be achieved and the research questions to be used in achieving the objectives as well as the description of the study area among others.
1.1 Overview of the project
This is a traditional research that seeks to find out how the lost glories in terms of education can be regained at Subin Hill. Subin Hill used to be an academic hub of Upper Denkyira District about ten years downwards. Basic School Certificate Examinations results by JHSs in Subin were among the best in the District as a result of which parents were sending their wards from the surrounding towns to attend school at Subin. In those years students from Subin JHSs had top Secondary Schools to attend unlike in recent times when some JHS products from Subin are hardly placed by the School Placement and Selection System (SPSS) even in less endowed Secondary Schools. The whole situation became reversed when teachers and students took to „galamsey‟. What compelled me to research into this is when I was informed of the zero percent score in BECE by Ameyaw Junior High School in 2005, one of the best schools.
1.2 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Subin-Hill is 36 miles away from Dunkwa, the major town in the area. The area is severely engaged by the activities of galamsey as a carcass left by the death of Dunkwa Continental Goldfields, a dredge mining company which operated on River Offin. Many are the people who have died and others being maimed as a result of accident involved in „galamsey‟ yet people do it. People of all ages and levels are engaged in this dreadful occupation including school children, adults (males and females) and even the aged. Prominent people like teachers, chiefs, students from tertiary institutions, self employed people and others are all involved in the „galamsey‟. Although many people have amass wealth through „galamsey‟, it has had a tremendous adverse effect on basic education in the area leading to persistent absenteeism, lateness, school dropout, teenage pregnancy, dead of school children among others and subsequently poor academic performance. Notwithstanding these disadvantages, the benefits of illegal mining include the springing up of new buildings, large market and prevention of rural-urban migration in the area.
Mining activities have been on ascendancy and have become more lucrative to private entities since the launching of the Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) in 1983 which legalized small scale mining. Gold ore (or lode) is found in the goldfields such as Obuasi and Tarkwa, while alluvial deposits are found in the valleys of the Offin, Jimi and the Ankobra rivers. In Ghana, most of the gold deposits are found in the South-Western part of the country embedded within the tarkwaian rocks. Thus, all the major mining companies are located in this region.
These companies use various mining methods including open-cast, deep-shaft, panning and dredging depending on the nature of the gold bearing rock and their depth, environmental conditions, climatic conditions, statutory requirement and the presence of human habitations.
Whether a gold mining company is actively operating or collapsed, one legacy left to the local populace is the activity of small scale illegal mining, popularly called „galamsey‟. “Galamsey” is the corrupt version of the phrase “gather and sell” which is a form of small-scale mining that take place without official approval. The vocation was formalised in 1989 through the promulgation of the mineral and mining law PNDCL 153 and the Small-Scale Mining Law 218 was also enacted to cater for small-scale mining. The large number of illegal miners is just a symptom of the scale of unemployment in the whole country. Within these, “fortune hunters” are also armed robbers and pure criminals, who are not really interested in gold but other things. Murderers, who are not interested in gold but in human parts use the illegal mining activities as a mask to track some of the young people who are into it and the ladies are normally trapped.
1.2 Problem Statement
It is widely accepted fact that education leads to sustainable development. This is evidenced in countries like Japan, America, and England etc. where literacy rate is high. These countries are highly developed because of their high literacy rate. Education brings skills to discover and create things needed. The situation in the third world, which Ghana is one, is different. Even though our educational policy suggests that all children of school going age must be in school, in reality, about 20% of children of school going age are still at home doing menial jobs which constitute child labour (UNICEF).
The situation of children doing menial jobs has been worsened by the perception of our societies. Our societies respect rich people no matter how they acquired their riches. Parents therefore
encourage their children to involve themselves in lucrative but risky jobs such as illegal gold mining. This is because guardians have seen that the only most available job in the nation is teaching which is more or less from hand to mouth. Or probably they have seen graduates without jobs. The researcher however believes that, if these future posterity is not groomed in the right direction our societies will be full of murderers, thieves, armed robbers, fraudsters, rapists, prostitutes, vandals and other social vices and the future of mother Ghana will be jeopardised.
Young children in our part of the world have realised that it is not only formal education that leads to personal prosperity. They see private enterprises as being more lucrative than spending large sums of money on formal education that is likely to land you in government department, where workers take home awfully very meagre amount. Children at Subin-Hill have after all seen that the wealthiest person in the area, Mr. Awudu has very little education and a private entrepreneur. In fact, all the financially capable people in the area are private business men with some of them without any formal education.
The over flooding of River Offin into Dunkwa into township this year is to some extent attributed to the dumping of tailings into the river by illegal gold miners. Other rivers with tailings in them over flooded their banks blocking almost all roads in the district.
The presence of “galamsey” in the area has brought about excessive high prices of food stuffs. This is because the youth who are supposed to till the land are all engaged in “galamsey”. Very fertile lands conducive for farming are thus being used for mining activities.
It is realized by the researcher that students in basic schools at Subin-Hill do not attend school due to their involvement in illegal mining activities in the area. The problem is severe in Anglican Primary and J.H.S at Afiefiso where this research work will focus on. Students‟ involvement in „galamsey‟ is causing absenteeism, lateness, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and delinquencies among school children in the area, which are all enemies to effective education. These behaviours are leading to the downturn in Basic Education Certificate Examination in recent years in all the Junior High Schools in the area. Ameyaw Junior High School, for instance scored zero percent pass in their 2006/07 BECE examination which had never happened in the history of the area when students in basic schools and their teachers were not engaged in illegal mining activities.
Students as young as those in class three have resulted to the use of expensive mobile phones and neglecting their books. With these fashionable phones in the hand of basic school students, teachers are tempted to exchange their inferior phones with their students. Teachers are thus not able to stump their authority in class. It is also alleged that teachers encourage students to engage in „galamsey‟ so that they could borrow money from the school children. Although teachers I contacted denied the money borrowing allegation, they confirmed the mobile phone exchange.
Although, artisanal gold mining activities have offered employment to many people, the adverse effects they cause to basic school children is worth discussing. It is envisaged that the finding from this research would lay bare the impact of „galamsey‟ on basic education with particular reference to Denkyira Subin.
The researcher hopes that the above practices together with others are the causes of the lowering standard of education in the area.
1.3 Purpose of the study
Generally, this study seeks to unveil the negative impact of illegal gold mining activities on education in Subin. It is also to suggest ways of helping students choose education other than mining. To this end, suggestions by the researcher would uplift the image of education when fully implemented. The school children at Subin-Hill would embrace education whole-heartedly so that education does not play second fiddle to mining.
1.4 Objectives of the study
Specifically, the study will;
1. Find out why school children engage themselves in illegal mining activities despite the risk involved
2. Find out the effects of illegal mining activities on students‟ education.
3. Assess the extent to which mining activities have influenced education at Subin-Hill.
1.5 Research Question
The main questions that this research work seeks to answer include the following.
1. Why school children engage themselves in illegal mining activities despite the risk involved?
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