Do street children have vocational aspirations?

A study of street children in AMA- Ghana


The purpose of this study was to find out if street children have vocational aspirations. A descriptive survey design was used. The study population consisted of 200 street children made up of 80 (44%) males and 112(56%) females within the central business district of the Accra Metropolitan Area. Their ages ranged from 8 to 17 years. The convenience sampling technique was used to select the participants, who were individually interviewed. The results showed that street children in spite of their challenges have vocational aspirations. They aspired to enter vocations such as the Police, the Army, Medicine, Law, Hairdressing, Dressmaking and the like. This finding showed that street children given the support either from the Government or NGOs will be able to achieve their vocational goals and

Description of street children

Street children can be described as children of school going-age roaming the streets of our cities engaging in all sorts of activities. “any child for whom the street has become his or her habitual abode and /or source of livelihood, and who is inadequately protected, supervised, or directed by adults” Henry and Morgan (2005)


According to Campbell and Ntsabane (1995)these children stay on the street for the most part of the day. They are not in school even though they are of school going age. The street child mistrust people, he enjoys his independence, he tends to be rebellious, he dislikes authoritarianism or ridged control, he can be rehabilitated, he can cope under difficult circumstances and he is nomadic.

Reasons for being on the street
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Poverty Conflicts Cultural practices(eg forced marriages, FGM, Trokosi etc) Child neglect, child trafficking Single parenting Death of parents Peer influence (Asiedu, 2003).

Categories of street children
A. Children who have run away from home or have no home; of which he or she sleeps on the street B. Children sleeping on the street with their family or guardian C. Children living at home, but working in an “at risk” situation(working at night, casual sex work and begging)

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Begging Hawking Washing cars/ windscreens of cars in traffic Serving as guards for cars at market places Shoe mending and shinning Prostitution Carrying luggage

They can live on the street till well over adolescence, which make it difficult to pursue vocations or learn a trade to fulfill their ambitions. Adolescence is a time when teenagers develop certain aspirations regarding their vocations/careers

What are vocational aspirations?

Vocation can be described as “a job that you do because you feel that it is your purpose in life and that you have special skills for doing it. Aspirations on the other hand represent a person’s orientation or attitude toward particular goals and can be influenced by variables such as gender, socio-economic status, family support, parental expectations, and cultural values”. Vocational aspirations can therefore be seen as “the occupation a person desires to pursue if there were no reality constraints (Domenico

Street children and vocational aspirations

Domenico and Jones (2007) assert that disadvantaged children or people, have a very strong desire for certain vocations despite their challenges. A career survey conducted showed that children on the streets in Hanoi, Vietnam and Jamaica desired to be teachers, lawyers, accountants, doctors, pilots, soldiers, nurses and many more (Henry & Morgan 2005, Hong & Ohno, 2005).


vocational aspirations result as reflects of past experiences and perceived barriers which prevented them from achieving their initial ambitions hence a change in vocation to suit their current situations. It therefore becomes equally important for them to consider learning of trades and vocations in order to seek employment or earn a better living. The idea of “spirit of enterprise” then ignites their desires to acquire vocational skills that can lead to providing trained human resources for socio-economic development.

Statement of the problem

 

Accra is functions as both the commercial and administrative capital of Ghana. It is strategically situated to attract people of all walks of life including street children. These children spend their lives on the streets and earn income from their activities. The question is do the have any vocational aspirations looking at their disadvantaged circumstances?

Purpose of the study
 

Estimates of 6000 street children in the ten regions of Ghana(Atakpa,2009). About 800 in Greater Accra
150 in and around Madina and Adenta  200 in Tema  200 in Ashaiman  300 in Accra metropolis The purpose therefore is to examine the future vocational aspirations of street children in the Greater Accra region with focus on the central business district of Accra

Research questions
 

What are the vocational aspirations of street children What are the sex differences in their vocational aspirations


Research design

Descriptive survey. Descriptive surveys describe existing phenomenon by using numbers to characterize individuals or a group. 200 street children (88(44%) males and 112(56%) females, age range 8-17 years from the central business district of AMA; Graphic Road-CMB/Railway Line Central Police Station-Kinbu Gardens CMB-Rawlings Park SNNIT-Fire Service-Makola


   

Methodology cont.

Sampling techniques/procedure

Convenience sampling technique Interview schedule(for those who could not read or write, opportunity for clarification, response to all items, observation of nonverbal cues and reactions to specific questions) Two parts; section A and B

Instruments for data collection

A for demographic information and B for vocational aspirations, reasons for being on the street and activities engaged in.

   

Administration by three trained bi-lingual assistants Items were read and interpreted in the language of the respondents Participants consent was obtained and each interviewer proceeded with the interview Interviews were conducted within 7 days and a minimum of 10-15minutes per participant

Data analysis

The percentage and frequency counts were used in analyzing the data under the various themes.


   

45 85 66 `4 88 112 76 22 18 4

22.5 42.5 33 2 44 56 38 80 11 9 2

8-10 11-13 14-16 17 Male Female Never enrolled Dropped out Primary school J.H.S S.H.S

 

Educational status
    


Results cont.

Parental status
   

30 50 88 32

15 25 44 16

Parents together Parents separated Parent divorced Parents deceased Begging 15 Carrying goods Hawking 107 Car washing/cleaning in traffic Shoe polishing and mending

Activities on the street
    

7.5 60 30 53.5 6 3 12 6

Vocational Aspirations of the sample
Vocations Males Females N %

Police Soldier Nurse Doctor Teacher Lawyer

N 10

5.0 % 5.0 5

2.5 5.0 2.5 5.0 6.0 25 10

5 10 10 5

2.5 1 5.0 5 5.0 10 2.5 4.0 12 1 10 2.5 2.5 20

Trading(business 8 ) Hairdressing Dressmaking Engineering Accountant 1 5 5

Results cont.

Sixty(30%) of the females desired to pursue female oriented vocations, hairdressing and nursing. Forty-five(22.5%) males aspired to be in male oriented vocations eg police, law, accounting, engineering, army

 

Street children in spite of their challenges have vocational aspirations. It is interesting to note that they had aspirations such as being in the police, the army, law, engineering and medicine, although this was in the minority, compared to vocations such as trading, dressmaking, hairdressing.

Discussion cont.

Results are similar to that of Henry & Morgan (2005) and Hong and Ohno (2005) who found in their survey among street children on the streets in Hanoi, Vietnam and Jamaica that they desired to be teachers, lawyers, accountants, doctors, pilots, soldiers, nurses and craftsmen, truck drivers, fishermen, firemen and bank clerks.

Discussion cont.

The choice of such occupations as dressmaking, hairdressing and trading was not surprising as this sort of training did not require long term training with or without formal education to complete. The findings are also in fulfillment of Rojewski and Yang (1997) study which state that socioeconomic status was the most significant indicator of low occupational aspiration. Thus there is a correlation between socio-economic level and career choice and career aspirations.

Discussion cont.

The few who chose occupations such as; the Police, Army, engineering, law and medicine maybe as a result of the influence of Television and the movie industry which portrays such occupations as prestigious and attracting respect from society they could still be holding on to the hope of achieving these vocations, it is also possible that they might be too young to realize that their status poses a challenge to these vocational goals.


The study sought to examine the vocational aspirations of street children;

it is interesting to note that even though the children were disadvantaged, they still have individual dreams to fulfill. They had strong desires for vocations irrespective of their circumstances and reasons for which they were on the streets. This is one positive indication that giving the children the opportunity to have some economic relief they would leave the streets to channel their energies into more productive ventures that can be of decency.

 

The concept of street children phenomenon is a multifaceted one It would be a challenge to use a single intervention that will fit the needs of all these children to solve their problems. Children who have become successful through their activities on the street though have vocational aspirations, may not be motivated to leave the streets, however others who are willing to be helped can be given skills for employments and free education.


Community leaders, Assemblymen/women, Opinion Leaders and Politicians must assist in the full implementation of the FCUBE programme to enhance school enrolment. Effective retention and maintenance of pupils in school will minimize the child streetism in Ghana. Withdrawn children who are now in decent professions must serve as role models to the existing generation to emulate. Government must develop a Training and Rehabilitation Centre for street children.

Recommendation for future research

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A comparative study of children both on the street and off the street and their vocational aspirations could be looked at Exploration of how they came to prefer the occupations they have chosen The relationship between age, educational attainment and the vocational aspirations of street children.

Limitations of the study
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Period of data collection Unwillingness of participants to open up Payment for taking part in the study

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