Ivory Coast is by far the world’s largest producer of cocoa, accounting for nearly 40 percent of global production. But poverty is widespread, and most of the small farmers in cocoa-growing regions can neither read nor write. Over two-thirds of Ivorian children drop out before completing elementary school. Yet education is key to the well-being of the rural population.
Seeking to improve the living conditions of Ivory Coast’s cocoa farmers and their children, the Jacobs Foundation is working with public and private organizations to develop a sustainable ecosystem that will ensure access to high-quality education. Education begins at home, with the parents, in early childhood. It continues at school, as children learn such basic skills as reading and writing. They subsequently acquire the social skills that are crucial for success in the labor market. The Transforming Education in Cocoa Communities (TRECC) program offers a variety of solutions for each of these stages in life.
Three factors are helpful for the implementation of TRECC:
- the high priority the Ivorian government gives to improving educational opportunities for the country’s children and youth;
- unprecedented joint efforts by the cocoa and chocolate industries to improve the living conditions of cocoa farmers (Cocoa Action); and
- improvements in the business skills of small farmers and civil-society organizations, which are improving educational quality at every level.
The goal by the year 2020 is for 80 percent of the children participating in TRECC to perform at grade level and for at least 50 percent of industry partners to make effective educational programs part of their sustainability strategies. By 2022 the living conditions of at least 200,000 children and adolescents have been improved. By providing support for the government, our industrial partners and local organizations, we are also seeking to ensure that rural communities have access to high-quality education even after the involvement of the Jacobs Foundation has come to an end.