A new study of mining induced impact on education in Newmont’s ‘fenceline communities’ in the Asutifi North District Assembly (ANDA) has revealed that the education of children in such areas is seriously under threat.
These fenceline communities also known as ‘left-behind communities’ are Tutuka, Damso, Yarogruma, Yawusukrom, Manu Shed, Annanekrom among others.
The study entitled – ‘Mining-Induced Displacement’s Impact On Children’s Education: Children Of School-Going Age In Newmont’s ‘Fenceline’ Communities’ in the Asutifi North District Assembly (ANDA)’ – was carried out by a researcher, who is also a Lecturer at the University of Education, Winneba (UEW), Dr. Yaw Asamoah, with support from Wacam and its partners—DKA Austria and Oxfam Ghana.
It found that many of the school children in these communities miss early morning lessons because they trek long distances to their relocated schools due to the operations of Newmont.
The report also identified high school dropouts, low enrollment and attendance and poor academic performance as some of the challenges parents in these communities are grappling with.
The findings of the study were made known by Dr. Asamoah at a public forum in Kenyasi in the ANDA in the Ahafo Region on Wednesday, May 17, 2023.
The forum brought together representatives of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Assembly members, affected community members, traditional rulers, faith-based organisations and a section of the public to deliberate on the findings of the study on Newmont’s Ahafo South operations in the ANDA.
Participants at the forum bemoaned the fact that the education of children in these communities was being gambled with and put at high risk by Newmont’s activities.
Consequently, they called on Newmont to collaborate with the ANDA and the traditional rulers to act with a sense of urgency to resettle those left-behind households around Newmont’s concession.
According to the participants, this measure will help ameliorate the scourging plights of these communities whose children’s education was adversely being impacted by the operations of the mining company.
Making a strong case for the above communities to be resettled, the Assemblies of God (AG) Ghana, Ahafo Regional Pastor, Rev. Samuel Sida, blamed the woes of the left-behind communities on the country’s weak minerals and mining laws.
According to him, the mining operations of Newmont were also affecting churches in the district.
“Church buildings in the Asutifi North District Assembly continue to suffer cracks; our air is polluted, and; many of us have contracted skin diseases,” the man of God lamented.
“As a result of Newmont’s operations, some of us do not drink water in Kenyasi. I buy my drinking water from Kumasi,” he disclosed.
Rev. Sida expressed that they were ‘not safe’, stressing that pastors in the district were ready to support to ensure that Newmont resettles the communities bearing the direct brunt of its operations.
In addition, the Assembly member for Jericho Electoral Area, Mr. Alex Owusu, said Ghana’s mineral resources have become a ‘curse’ for communities in the Asutifi North District.
He was particularly unhappy that Newmont continuously engaged people outside the district for employment.
“It is about time communities in the Asutifi North District had direct engagement with the top management of Newmont to drum home our grievances to them for permanent solutions to them,” he urged.
Also, the Assembly member for Adum Electoral Area, Rev. Osei Kofi Jnr., gave the firm assurance that Assembly members in the district will hold an emergency meeting to deliberate on the issue of how Newmont’s activities were affecting education of children in the district.
When offered the opportunity, a representative from Newmont Ghana Gold Limited, Mr. Richard Adu, declined to comment on the issues raised in the study and at the forum.
In a welcome address, the Associate Executive Director of Wacam, Mrs. Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, said the impact of mining on the education of children in mining communities cannot be over-emphasised.
She recounted how school buildings and other social infrastructural facilities were destroyed by mining operations in Tarkwa in the Western North Region.
She urged the powers that be to take serious interest in the issue of children’s education in mining areas.
For his part, the Executive Director of Wacam, Mr. Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, stressed that education was key to the success of every nation, adding that ‘we need to think seriously about the future of our children.”
Earlier, in his presentation, Dr. Asamoah recommended in his study on the need for NGGL, the district assembly and the traditional leaders in ANDA to expedite efforts to resettle the ‘left-behind’ households in the fenceline communities.
This, he said, will be a long-term measure to make schools easily and readily accessible to school-children in these households.