One of the things that hit me the hardest about being in Ghana was the relaxed attitudes towards education. Within Ghana, education is not compulsory nor is it affordable. Seeing young children who ought to be in school out selling items at the market was a far too common occurrence. For the most part, it was young girls who were out of school.
After a bit of probing, I found out that boy’s education was prioritised, mainly because of the gendered stereotypes that are so entrenched within Ghanaian culture. It is the responsibility of the girls to take care of all of the domestic tasks on behalf of the family so that one day they will make the perfect wife who will know how to care for her husband. The expectations placed on young girls, to me, seemed unreasonable. Girls’ education should not be neglected and it should be considered of equal importance to that of boys. Yet this is not necessarily the case.
‘Seeing young children who ought to be in school out selling items at the market was a far too common occurrence’ photo © Gavin Edmondstone
Gender is not the only barrier to education. Low family incomes and lack of funding also play a massive part in low school attendance. Whilst out in the community of Kpunduli, I met a woman who could not afford to send either of her two teenage daughters to school. Instead, she sent them to Accra, the capital, to earn a living at a popular hotel carrying guests’ luggage. It is a saddening and sobering thought to know that without formal education, the employment that these girls have obtained will possibly be the best employment they can gain. Yet this situation is not an unfamiliar one — many parents cannot afford to pay school fees. Continue reading
The mountainous forests of Ecuador are a hotspot for wildlife species such as monkeys, bats and sloths, but none are more endangered than the Andean spectacled bear. So-called because their facial markings resemble glasses, these rare bears are at serious risk due to the ever-present threat of poaching and deforestation on the Ecuador-Peru border. Fortunately, the Ecuadorian Environment Secretary Lorena Tapia has recently joined forces with scientists and conservationists from Cornell University in New York. The aim is to provide incentives for local people to safeguard existing forests and prioritise sustainability, which will reduce deforestation levels and subsequently save the bears’ habitat.
The bears are found in the Ecuadorian forests. (Photographer: Andrea Skay; Flickr)
The team have also enlisted the help of Andean bear expert Santiago Molina, from the charitable organisation Andean Bear Foundation, to set up cameras and radio tracking devices to collect data on the bears’ environmental requirements and use of habitat. The charity hopes that the information gathered from this project will enable the implementation of a better strategy to secure the bears’ conservation, protection and survival, as well as to educate the local communities about these gentle creatures. Plans are also under way to reintroduce captive and orphaned bears into the wild, in order to boost numbers of wild Andean bears in the future.