Parents from rural communities in Ivory Coast are being encouraged to send their children to school instead of letting them work in cocoa farms. As Grace Pascoe reports it's all part of a government initiative to end child labour.
Halima Coulibaly is 10 and in her first year at school. She lives in Ivory coast where cocoa farming often comes before education. (SOUNDBITE) (Malinké) HALIMA COULIBALY, STUDENT, SAYING: "Before I came to school, I worked in the fields, gathering cacao, putting it in sacks and transporting it." Child labour is widespread in Ivory Coast. Many farmers can't afford to hire help and working with their parents is seen as a key part of growing up. (SOUNDBITE) (Malinké) FUNGOLO COULIBALY, COCOA FARMER AND FATHER OF HALIMA, SAYING: "When I work on my plantation, I get good results. I am a farmer, and I have to show my children what I do, so tomorrow they will know." Fungolo and his wife changed their minds about education thanks to a government Child Protection Committee. Since 2010 it's been encouraging farmers to help each other so their children can go to school. Désiré Kouadio is its President in the Koffikro region. (SOUNDBITE) (French) DESIRE KOUADIO, PRESIDENT OF THE KOFFIKRO CHILD PROTECTION COMMITTEE, SAYING: "They didn't really see the importance of school. Because they left places like Mali and Burkina to come here and farm. If they had a child, the child would go to the fields with them." The project has been such a success the UN's Children's Agency UNICEF has built three extra classrooms. And Halima now has ambitions beyond cocoa farming. (SOUNDBITE) (Malinké) HALIMA COULIBALY, STUDENT, SAYING: "I would like to be a teacher, because being a teacher is a good thing." There are other benefits too - children no longer risk injury from the back-breaking work. Instead their parents get advice on farming methods that don't involve child labour.