- Barry Callebaut completes construction of two new rural primary schools and community learning centers to serve cocoa farmer families
- Work underway with development experts and community members to establish school food programs and provide child labor sensitization activities
- Project recognized as contributing to the elimination of child labor in Côte d’Ivoire
Barry Callebaut, the world’s leading manufacturer of high- quality cocoa and chocolate products, recently inaugurated two new rural primary schools and community learning centers in Côte d’Ivoire. Since 2010 the company has funded the construction of seven primary schools in Côte d’Ivoire, providing a total to date of 21 furnished classrooms to enable over 1,000 children in rural cocoa growing areas to attend school.
Barry Callebaut’s latest educational infrastructure projects in Côte d’Ivoire were completed in the villages of Mossi Carrefour, located south of Divo, and in Djahakro, located northeast of San Pedro. Several thousand cocoa farmers and their families live in the villages and surrounding areas, and more than 900 are members of cooperatives that have participated in Barry Callebaut’s Quality Partner Program for over five years. Through its Quality Partner Program, established in 2005, Barry Callebaut works to advance sustainable cocoa production and improve farmer livelihoods.
The new schools in Mossi Carrefour and Djahakro were inaugurated on March 13, 2013, and April 9, 2013, respectively. Community members including farmers and management staff of the cooperatives, as well as village chiefs and elders, local government officials and representatives of the Education Ministry participated in the inauguration events hosted by Barry Callebaut.
“The construction of new primary classrooms to meet the needs of rural communities, in particular in cocoa growing areas, is of great importance to the Ministry of Education in Côte d’Ivoire. Making quality schools available is one of the most effective ways to combat the issue of child labor, and we are grateful for the contribution to this effort made by Barry Callebaut,” said Mrs. Kandia Camara, Minister of National Education and Technical Education in Côte d’Ivoire.
The project, which is part of Barry Callebaut’s USD 42 million Cocoa Horizons global sustainability initiative, represents an investment commitment of USD 300,000 over three years and includes the provision of infrastructure and community-driven curriculum in two rural cocoa farming communities with a combined population of more than 11,000.
“Our goal is for the school facility to evolve into a community learning center and to serve as a focal point in the village,” said Paul De Petter, VP Cocoa Africa at Barry Callebaut. “We are proud to be working in partnership with the local cooperative and farmers to help meet their urgent needs for educational facilities for their primary school-age children. By providing well- built accommodations for teachers, as well as school facilities, we also aim to help these remote farming communities attract and retain qualified teachers.”
The infrastructure elements include a furnished and equipped school building with three classrooms and an office for teachers, separate latrines for boys and girls, solar panels for lighting, a school canteen, a teacher housing unit with three two-room apartments, and a community water well. The curriculum components, being developed with local NGOs and the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), will include child labor sensitization activities and agricultural and business skills training to enable women to run and manage a school food program.
“While we have worked already with five other communities in remote cocoa growing areas to build primary schools and other infrastructure, this is the first time Barry Callebaut is implementing a combined approach integrating infrastructure and curriculum for community members,” said Marina Morari, Manager Corporate Social Responsibility, Global Sourcing & Cocoa, at Barry Callebaut. “We will be monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the combined approach to determine the opportunities for expansion to additional communities.”
The construction of the schools, fully funded by Barry Callebaut, is part of a three-year project that has been recognized as contributing to the elimination of the worst forms of child labor by the Child Labor Cocoa Coordinating Group (CLCCG). The CLCCG is the steering group for the “Framework of Action to Support the Implementation of the Harkin-Engel Protocol,” a commitment by multiple stakeholders to reduce the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa sectors in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana by 70 percent in aggregate by 2020. Members of the CLCCG include U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, U.S. Representative Eliot Engel and representatives from the U.S. Department of Labor, the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, the Government of Ghana, and the international chocolate and cocoa industry.
With annual sales of about CHF 4.8 billion (EUR 4.0 billion / USD 5.2 billion) in fiscal year 2011/12, Zurich-based Barry Callebaut is the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality cocoa and chocolate – from the cocoa bean to the finest chocolate product. Barry Callebaut operates out of 30 countries, runs more than 45 production facilities and employs a diverse and dedicated workforce of about 6,000 people. Barry Callebaut serves the entire food industry focusing on industrial food manufacturers, artisans and professional users of chocolate (such as chocolatiers, pastry chefs or bakers), the latter with its two global brands Callebaut® and Cacao Barry®. Barry Callebaut is the global leader in cocoa and chocolate innovations and provides a comprehensive range of services in the fields of product development, processing, training and marketing. Cost leadership is another important reason why global as well as local food manufacturers work together with Barry Callebaut. Through its Cocoa Horizons initiative and research activities, the company engages with farmers, farmer organizations and other partners to help ensure future supplies of cocoa and improve farmer livelihoods.