Investing in quality education for all children in the cocoa sector of Côte d'Ivoire

Progress Blog
Investing in quality education for all children in the cocoa sector of Côte d'Ivoire

Cocoa Life’s Mbalo Ndiaye and Virginie Mahin discuss the new collaboration with the Jacobs Foundation.

At Cocoa Life, we have a vision to make cocoa right. We know cocoa communities can only have a thriving future if the rights of children within them are protected, which is why we believe that the work of children is education and play.

We are proud to share that, alongside the Ivorian government and industry peers and suppliers, Cocoa Life is investing 3 million Swiss francs (~3 million USD) in early childhood development and access to quality education in Côte d’Ivoire – one of our key cocoa growing countries – through two initiatives led by the Jacobs Foundation:

  • The creation of an Early Learning and Nutrition (ELAN) Financing facility, and
  • The creation of a Child Learning and Education Facility (CLEF).

The two initiatives will be funded by a pooled funding facility with a total target capitalization of 150 million Swiss francs (~150 million USD).

As Fabio Segura, Co-CEO of Jacobs Foundation, says: “This is a unique opportunity to come together and rigorously address the root causes of child labor and promote quality education in a systemic manner. All partners strongly believe that only joint forces will ultimately bring sustainable change.”

A long-standing partnership for lasting change

Mbalo Ndiaye
Head of Cocoa Life Côte d'Ivoire
Mondelez International

A landmark survey in 2015 revealed that in rural Ivorian areas, nearly 30% of primary school-aged children are out of school, and this percentage rises to 50% for children of lower secondary school age. For those who have had several years of schooling, the majority of children still cannot read, write or do basic math. Without access to quality education, these children are at higher risk of child labor, and future generations of cocoa farmers risk not being equipped to thrive in this fast-paced, technologically advanced world.

We have worked with the Jacobs Foundation for over three years in Côte d’Ivoire, through their Transforming Education in Cocoa Communities (TRECC) program, cultivating a stronger future for generations to come.

Together with the Jacobs Foundation, we piloted an Early Childhood Development project where we reached 1,000 children of cocoa farmers under five years old. The project provided them with the opportunity to access quality education and supported their mothers in developing literacy skills and businesses through Village Savings and Loans Associations. This successful, holistic approach informed the design of interventions for the ELAN program. We are very proud to have contributed to this development.

The two new programs implemented by the Jacobs Foundation – CLEF and ELAN – will ensure access to quality education for children and promote children’s rights in the fight against child labor in Côte d’Ivoire.

Snapshot: The Early Learning and Nutrition (ELAN) financing facility

ELAN aims to reach 1.3 million children aged 0 to 5 in rural areas and their caregivers, providing quality services and training in early childhood development and nutrition. The primary caregivers of young children can play a major role in improving child-related indicators.

Physical and brain development is most rapid in the earliest years of life, when children are fully dependent on their caregivers. Yet in Côte d'Ivoire, caregivers in rural areas, who often have low levels of formal education, receive very little support to provide the best environment for their children’s development.

With the objective to fill this gap, we will be supporting ELAN to scale up Early Childhood Development interventions, focusing on caregiver programs, so that caregivers are equipped with the right tools to raise the next generation.

Snapshot: The Child Learning and Education Facility (CLEF)

CLEF aims to provide quality education for 5 million children by 2030 and positively influence 10 million parents; reaching 58% of all primary schools and 90% of all rural schools, including virtually all schools across the cocoa-growing region.

Quality education is increasingly seen as one of the most effective tools for combating child labor. When delivered well, education promotes employment, earnings, and health. However, when education quality is poor, this doesn’t happen. Simply building classrooms has little to no impact on learning. To realize education’s potential as an effective means of building human capital and combating child labor, it must be of sufficiently high quality.

CLEF will ensure access to quality education in Côte d’Ivoire, thereby promoting children’s right to education and tackling child labor. The initiative aims to build 2,500 classrooms and other education infrastructure; improve teaching quality in 10,000 rural primary schools; give 10 million parents information about effective child learning and child rights; and will use satellite imagery, AI, and mobile technology to track implementation progress, impact and learnings.

We see these two initiatives as crucial to giving the children of Côte d’Ivoire in cocoa-growing communities a promising future.

A holistic approach to tackling child labor

Virginie Mahin
Global Social Sustainability & Human Rights Lead
Mondelēz International

Landscape approaches that bring together governments and private actors, such as these two initiatives led by the Jacobs Foundation, are the best way to address systemic human rights issues in global supply chains. CLEF and ELAN will strengthen the Ivorian educational system and complement our own approach to addressing child labor in the 1,040 Cocoa Life communities in Côte d’Ivoire. Through Cocoa Life, we get to the heart of the issue: targeting prevention through our holistic approach, and identifying and supporting vulnerable children through the Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS) we are rolling out across all Cocoa Life communities in West Africa.

ELAN and CLEF will support and amplify our holistic approach to prevention: investing in early education, infrastructure and quality teaching in support of the government’s educational policy and National Action Plan Against Child Labor. Through education, we can empower the next generation to advocate for their own development.

More than 100 million children around the world are affected by child labor in the agricultural sector, including an estimated 2 million children in the West African cocoa sector. Such a complex challenge cannot be solved by any one party: all stakeholders including actors along the supply chain and governments have a role to play. Children are our future, and education is critical to helping them thrive. Building on the success of this public-private initiative, we are encouraging the Jacobs Foundation to partner with the Ghanaian government to expand this initiative to our other key cocoa growing country, Ghana.

We believe partnership is the key to lasting change. That’s why we are working with local authorities and all partners to address child labor in the cocoa supply chain. We now call on all stakeholders of the cocoa and chocolate sector to join forces and play their part, to once and for all put an end to child labor in cocoa.