Hundreds of Ghanaian children of school going age in Hamile in the Lambusie District of the Upper West Region have been spotted engaging in brisk Donkey Cart business across borders during school contact hours.
The children, mostly under 15, have been carrying passengers and heavy loads with donkey carts along the Ghana-Burkina Faso border towns for several years, according to community mrmbers.
It has created more jobs and income opportunities for teeming unemployed young men and women of school going age in Hamile and its neighbouring communities, Ghana News Agency checks have revealed.
The children who are expected to be in school have abandoned education at the blind side of authorities, and now render cross border services for adults with donkey cart services toping the trade.
The GNA monitoring team along the border established that many school going children briskly engage in selling goods, fetching water, carrying sick people to hospital, carrying passengers and fetching sand and firewood at the borders.
They seem to have the full endorsement of their parents and guardians.
Mr Traoare Abubacar, a Donkey Cart driver, told the Ghana News Agency that the success of the community youth depended heavily on the donkey cart business.
“The Donkey Cart business is highly patronised by most people especially traders,” he said: “At this place, if you have Donkey Cart you are like someone with a commercial car or jet.”
Donkey Cart operations by persons under 18 in Ghana are classified as minors under the laws and therefore forbidden because it is considered as child labour.
Child labour is defined by experts as persons under 18 who engage in activities that deprive their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.
What makes it easier for children to engage in the Donkey Cart trade in the border communities, perhaps, is that one does not require any license or certificate before starting it.
“Provided your parents can afford a Donkey Cart, you have the liberty to operate it,” Abubacar said.
Children between the ages of seven and 11 living in and around the border towns join the trade in a bid to make some money in order to meet their daily basic needs.
The juveniles caught in the brisk business known in the Ghanaian local language – “Waali” parlance as “Bonga Toriko” – to earn a living at the expense of receiving free education.
Basic education under Ghana’s education system is free and compulsory for children aged four to 15 years – the minimum period of schooling needed to ensure that children acquire basic literacy, numeracy and problem solving skills as well as skills for creativity and healthy living.
Ghana government in September 2017, extended free education services to senior high school in order to empower and change many lives of millions of Ghanaians through education, though not including basic education.
Madam Abubakari Salmata, a Parent, defended the trade saying it enabled farmers to participate in the market economy and helped parents to have some money for the education needs of their children.
“Donkeys have reduced the domestic transport burden of women and have created employment to our children,” she said: “Also travelling in a donkey cart is cheaper and more easily than relying on public transport or motor vehicles.”
“The business is lucrative that is why parents allow their children to go into it. Imagine taking someone from Ghana crossing to Burkina Faso either with goods or not, the person will pay not less than GHC10.00 for that short distance.”
She also noted: “Over here we don’t see education to be so much important because everything is about money. Since the children are getting money from it, parents see no need for sending them to school.”
“You will send a child to school and teachers will ask them to pay school or exams fees, if the parents don’t have, meaning the child will concentrate on what will give the family money”.
When contacted by the GNA, Upper West Regional Director of Education Mr Evans Kpebah said his outfit was not aware of the trending business among Ghanaian children.
He, however, added that he would get in touch with the Lambussie District Director of education for further briefings.
“No, it hasn’t come to my notice, but I will find out from the director,” he said.
Mr Kpeba expressed worry that though the constitution stipulates free compulsory universal basic education, Ghana’s inability to enforce the law has been a major concern that ought to be addressed by actors in educaiton.

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