Context: Ghana is a source and destination country for trafficking: the practice of buying and selling children that leads to the worst forms of child labor and exploitation. The minimum age when children can work legally in Ghana is 16. However, more than 26% of children in Ghana ages 5 -14 work illegally. Currently over 56% of young people who graduate from elementary and middle school (which are free) are not able to enroll in secondary schools due to their parents’ inability to pay fees and overriding interest in having their children contribute to family income instead.
Organization: Challenging Heights (CH) was founded in 2003 to help rescue, rehabilitate and provide education for young people who have been trafficked or have experienced the worst forms of child labor. CH also supports at-risk and poor families to ensure that young people are protected from trafficking and child labor through education. CH does community and government level advocacy, training for children and parents on child rights and health, and also helps families improve their income levels so that returned trafficked children can attend school. These actions help communities to reject the sale and exploitation of children.
Current Grant: EMpower’s third grant to Challenging Heights will expand the “Remedial Education to Restore Hope” program, which was piloted in 2010 with EMpower support and focuses on enabling young people to move to the next level of education. This grant will incorporate stronger information and communication technology (ICT) training needed to secure employment and add an advocacy component designed to address the issue of school and exam fees, which present an ongoing challenge for the majority of CH participants. Participants will be tutored in several subject areas with the goal of passing their secondary school completion exams in 2013, in addition to receiving personal and career counselling to help overcome the trauma of past abuse related to child labor.