FYI: Kidversation

Prince: The child worker

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Supported by the BFI, Sky Kids and FYI

Article 28 of the The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child says: “Children have the right to an education. Primary education must be free and different forms of secondary education must be available to every child.”

FYI’s Xavier meets Prince.

PRINCE: Hi, my name is Prince, and I have the right to an education.

I’m on the last leg of a long journey into a remote part of Africa. We’ve flown over 3,000 miles from the UK to Accra, the capital of Ghana, close to the equator.

XAVIER: I’m in a small village called Iyanswako, three hours from the capital Accra, to meet a young boy who’s just 10 years old and has never been to school.

Prince has lived in this remote part of Ghana all his life and it’s a totally different world to what I’m used to. He’s never had running water or electricity. So, like the other children in the village he’s never had a TV and definitely not a smart phone. And because he’s never had the chance to get an education Prince knows there’s no way any of this is ever likely to change.

XAVIER: Hi, I’m Xavier. Nice to meet you. Do you want to have a chat. Cool.
PRINCE: Where are you from?

XAVIER: I come from England, it’s pretty far away. This is really cold up here, it’s super hot down here because you’re on the erm, the equator.
PRINCE: Wow, you’ve come a long way.

XAVIER: So, what do you do when you get up in the morning?
PRINCE: I wash my face, clean the pots and go fetch water. After I bathe I go to the farm to work. On my way back I fetch more water.

Living in extreme poverty means Prince and his nine-year-old sister, Gifty, work all day helping the family make ends meet. Something that’s quite common in poorer countries. Each day starts with house chores like sweeping and clean the pots; followed by a half hour walk to the river and back, gathering around 20 litres of water.

XAVIER: How tough was it to hold that water, it looked super heavy?
PRINCE: I walk fast so I can get there early and because the water is heavy, my sister has to help me lift it onto my head.

They need water for bathing, washing dishes and cooking. Prince challenges me to have a go.

XAVIER: Right, let’s do this. Oksy halfway full for the rookie. Yay ooh it’s really hard. No I can’t go anywhere. It’s very heavy. Ah, oh. Ok I couldn’t do that.

Farming is the main way the family survives – though the land often suffers from droughts. Prince takes me to where he and Gifty harvest cocoa beans. With so many hands needed to help in the fields, many children in rural Ghana don’t go to school.

Prince told me his family support his dream to get an education but there’s another barrier. Even though Ghana’s government has recently made all education free, poor families like this can’t afford the kit they’d need like books, pencils, uniforms and shoes. While Prince is obsessed with football his family can’t afford a proper ball. But now a Charity called Humanitas is helping him turn his life around.

They’re bringing education to an area where very few children used to go to school. And they’re giving Prince and Gifty all they need to begin their education. It’s a life changing moment that I feel really lucky to be a part of.

GIFTY: Wow, it looks amazing.

XAVIER: Do you think every child should go to school?
PRINCE: Yes, because every child’s future matters. If you go to school you can get a better job and take care of your family.

XAVIER: Well exactly. What’s one thing you really want to learn?
PRINCE: Maths.

XAVIER: I spent some time with Prince today and I can’t believe how hard he works and he has to do it every day. Like it’s shocking really because so many of us in the UK will just complain for washing the dishes – when he has to do so much more. But that could all change for him because he’s gonna get to go to school tomorrow.

It’s the day Prince and Gifty have waited for all their lives. But there are still a few household chores that need to be done first. Finally, they’re off to their very first day of school and Prince has invited me to share this special experience with him. The school has electricity and even the internet. Almost unheard of around here. Aged 10, Prince gets his first ever proper maths lesson.

Maths class

XAVIER: I find out that Prince had never learnt how to read, something most of us take for granted.

XAVIER: He was big in the bush. Good. Prince can’t take in all of the lessons fast enough and there’s lots of fun stuff too. So how did school go today?
PRINCE: It made me so happy, the lessons, the drums, everything.

XAVIER: Have you made any friends at school today.
PRINCE: Yeah about 10.
XAVIER: That’s amazing. Not as many people fit in as quickly as you did.

And after a full day of firsts there’s one final surprise for Prince. Humanitas have a football pitch with proper equipment and even a qualified coach. Prince may have come from the poorest background but now he’s getting an education he’s full of plans for the future.

XAVIER: What do you want to be when you grow up?
PRINCE: Bank manager!
XAVIER: Ambitious, I like it, yeah.

XAVIER: So, it is our last night in Iyanswako and I’ve loved the experience, and I think I’ve made a really good friend in Prince.
PRINCE: Can we take a selfie?

And it’s just been amazing to see him integrate into school so well and him to fit in and find all these new friends. I think it’s really something we could all learn from and that I’ve definitely learnt from over the week. I think we just really need to appreciate what we’ve got more and we just need to know, just don’t take education for granted.

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