Recently, children in the cocoa growing communities we work with in Côte d’Ivoire came together to celebrate the International Day of the African Child, which raises awareness of the challenges children face in Africa, with a focus on improving access to quality education.
During the pandemic, this message is more vital than ever. Schools were closed to slow the spread of the virus, disrupting children’s learning and increasing the risk of child labour as they were kept home on family farms at a time when it was hard for farmers to employ other labour.
So, as pupils returned to school, we partnered with the Dominique Ouattara School Complex, constructed in 2015 through funds from Olam Cocoa, to teach them about COVID-19 prevention, boost their enthusiasm for education and learning, and show we cannot let the pandemic damage children’s futures through increased risk of child labour.
Over the course of the day, the pupils were visited by an award-winning youth theatre group who performed a play which teaches important lessons about COVID-19 prevention and the dangers of child labour, and also took part in quizzes, storytelling and song competitions. Prizes were awarded to the best performing pupils in each grade.
As well as using the day to promote the importance of education and learning, Olam Cocoa also distributed sanitation gel, face masks and t-shirts to staff and pupils at the school and installed hand washing stations on the premises, to support the fight against COVID-19.
Initiatives like this are just one part of the effort to eliminate child labour. We are also rolling out child labour monitoring and remediation across our global, direct cocoa supply chain to identify and help anyone at risk and make sure all children of cocoa farmers have access to education.
For further information on the work Olam Cocoa is doing to combat child labour around the world, head to this blog.