Do the children go to school in Ivory Coast?
Schooling is compulsory in Ivory Coast. So the law says that children have to go to school.
Still, not all children go to school. There are 89 out of 100 children who even start school. This means that 11 out of 100 children do not go to school at all. So they don’t learn to read, do arithmetic or write. You have little chance of a well-paid job later.
The children who do not go to school are often children from poor families. Many work – a quarter of all children have a job. There are also children who live on the streets. Another problem is that many school buildings were destroyed in the civil war (2002-2007). It will take time until they are rebuilt.
Primary school lasts six years. Only around a third of the children attend secondary school. The proportion of girls is even lower here than in primary school. Those who manage to go to secondary school for seven years and pass the exams have the Baccalauréat. This is the name of the Abitur in French.
French is also the language of instruction in Ivory Coast. This is because the country was a French colony for many years. The whole school system is therefore based on the French one. As in France, the grades are given from 0 to 20. 20 is the best score you can get.
How are the children?
There are many children living in Ivory Coast. Their share of the population is much, much higher than here in Germany. 38 percent of Ivorians – that’s the name given to the inhabitants of Ivory Coast – are under 14 years of age.
The country is very poor. Many children do not go to school. There are many people who cannot read and write (these are called illiterate people).
Poor and sick
Many children grow up in poverty. They often don’t have enough to eat. They get sick and cannot see a doctor or their family has no money for medicine. Above all, many children get malaria and some die from it. Also, cholera and diarrhea are common. This is mostly due to unclean drinking water. Three out of 100 babies die in childbirth and eight out of 100 children do not see their fifth birthday.
- 93 percent of boys and 85 percent of girls go to school.
- 38 percent of the population are under 14 years old.
- 29 percent of children between the ages of five and 14 work. Seven percent of girls are married before they are 15 years old, 27 percent before they are 18 years old.
Unfortunately there are a lot of children who work. Most of the time, they are forced to toil on the cocoa plantations. Children from the neighboring countries of Mali and Burkina Faso are also sold to Ivory Coast to work on the plantations there. They are twelve or thirteen years old when they are sold. The owner of the cocoa plantation pays around 250 euros for the child. It receives no wages for its work.
Children are also used on coffee and cotton plantations. Other children work on the street, they sell something or are shoeshiners. Girls are turned into housemaids who have to help with the household.
Why is that?
In West Africa cocoa is not grown on large plantations (as is the case in South America), but on many small plantations. For the farmers it goes without saying that their children have to work there. It is a tradition that children do the same craft as their parents.
Above all, however, the price of cocoa is far too low. The big chocolate companies don’t pay fair prices. So the poor farmers have no choice but to let children work. Fair wages for farmers are a prerequisite for stopping child labor.
During this work, children are exposed to much greater dangers than adults, for example from dangerous equipment or chemicals.
The country’s poverty also plays a major role. If the parents can no longer feed their children, the children earn something to support themselves, for example as a shoe shine. Then of course they don’t go to school and so they don’t get any education and even as adults they won’t be able to find well-paid jobs. It is a vicious circle that is very difficult to break out of.