Streetism in Ghana
“I would like to go to school, but my parents cannot afford to pay the school fees so I just have to make a living on the streets. I will continue my education if your organisation can help me.”
“Streetism” is a broad term used to encompass the desperate situation of children who are forced to spend most of their time outside their homes, engaging in menial income generating activities in order to survive, and often having to sleep rough on the streets.
Faced with worsening economic conditions in rural areas, characterised by limited support for farming activities, increasing unemployment, poor access to health facilities and inadequate educational opportunities, increasing numbers of adults and children are migrating to the major urban areas of Ghana.
Living, working and sleeping on the streets exposes these vulnerable children to the dangers of robbery and violence, rape, prostitution, drug and alcohol abuse. Diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases are also of increasing concern.
|As well as those forced to live on the streets, there is also another category of “streetism”. They are children who come from the city itself, but whose parents or guardians are still facing issues of poverty and deprivation. Unable to pay for school fees, children end up working on the streets trying desperately to earn the money for fees.|
The overwhelming majority remain outside the education system, with at best only limited literacy or numeracy skills, condemned to a future of manual labour and exploitation.
Although accurate figures are difficult to find is estimated that there are at least 40,000 street children in Ghana.
In the capital Accra alone, the population of street children has more than doubled in the last five years. Over the years, one generation of street children have given birth to another, with mothers and children remaining exposed to the dangers of life on the streets. In January of 2003 a survey undertaken by a local Ghanaian NGO concluded that there were an estimated 20,000 children and 6,000 babies living on the streets of the city.
And yet, with timely and practical support, the lives of these vulnerable children and young people can be completely turned around.