Protecting children through accessible education

Nigeria Birth Certificate Redacted

Author | Billie Elmqvist Thurén | Human Rights ofi Sustainability & Cocoa Lead


Accessible education is an effective way to reduce the risk of the incidence of child labor as well as providing a foundation for protecting children’s rights. Through our Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS), we monitor and identify the specific needs of communities across our nine global sustainable sourcing regions.


From providing access to schools closer to home to initiatives that empower cocoa households to be more economically resilient, here are a few ways we are removing barriers for children in our cocoa supply chain to attend school and develop their future potential.

Birth certificates for school enrolment

In many cocoa-sourcing countries, having a birth certificate is a mandatory requirement to attend school, yet children in some cocoa-farming families can miss out on this vital piece of paperwork due to their rural location. Birth certificates are issued at birth automatically at state-recognized hospitals and health centers; however, these are generally based in urban areas, and community-based midwifery is not always equipped to do this.


Obtaining documentation after birth can be complicated. Rather than cocoa farming families having to overcome transport costs to travel to the nearest major town to get one, our team in Nigeria has partnered with Ondo and Ogun State officials to visit the community directly. This has been an effective way to increase the number of birth certificates issued and to remove this as a barrier to education.  Of the children identified through our CLMRS system without a birth certificate in this community, 96% were able to obtain a copy in 2023. Our team in Nigeria is now looking into replicating this partnership in other cocoa communities.


Building infrastructure

ofi’s team in Uganda, with one of our customers, supported the construction of three new classrooms and renovated a further five school buildings in the community of Mirambi. We also constructed a borehole for fresh drinking water and a pit latrine. Inside the classroom, 70 new school desks were provided.


We know it is not just about enhancing the learning environment for children but also attracting and retaining teachers in these communities. In Côte d’Ivoire, as part of a school renovation project, ofi built teacher accommodation on the school premises. And on Serum Island in Indonesia, we also help pay the salaries of honorary teachers in an elementary school close to our operations.


Financing school fees and resources

To help cover education expenses and incentivize school attendance, we offer scholarships to the children of cocoa farmers and sharecroppers in the Pará region in Brazil.  Aimed at high school students, the scholarships support them in completing school despite having to travel long distances, which can also be costly for the family.


Another way to help cover school fees and resources is to empower women through the Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs).  ofi helps communities in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria, to establish VSLAs where members who are majority women can access loans that they can use to invest in their businesses and pay the costs of sending their children to school. The Fair Labor Association conducted a social impact assessment on six VSLAs in ofi programs in Côte d’Ivoire and found that the school enrolment rate of children was higher amongst VSLA members than amongst non-VSLA members. 


Continued collaboration

Collaboration is critical to addressing child labor and the structural issues and norms that lead to it occurring in cocoa. With our customers and partners, we will continue to design and implement sustainability programs that enhance the accessibility and quality of education for children in cocoa communities and create the environment needed for children to learn and grow towards a healthy future.

Billie Elmqvist Thurén


Billie Elmqvist Thurén |

Human Rights ofi Sustainability & Cocoa Lead