file photo[/caption] Research conducted by Good Governance Africa, a not-for-profit organization, has revealed small-scale mining has affected school attendance and performance in basic schools in small scale mining areas. The research outcomes shared at a forum in Kumasi also show high levels of teenage pregnancy in galamsey communities. Gold mining constitutes Ghana’s second most important export commodity. Currently, Ghana has the second largest gold deposits in Africa. Estimates show that small-scale mining generates about 30 percent of the country’s gold exports. While the current laws and regulations give some formality to small-scale mining, over 70 percent of those engaged in small-scale mining in Ghana are unlicensed and undocumented. According to research conducted by Good Governance Africa, prior to the operations of the galamsey activities in those areas, the performance and attendance of school children were very high. But for the love of money the students leave the classroom to prospect for gold at ‘galamsey’ sites. Lead researcher and development consultant with Good Governance Africa, Dr Kingsley Arkorful, revealed students registered for the last Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) exempted themselves from school to engage in illegal mining activities. The research also revealed some primary school children hawk basic commodities at galamsey sites whilst other young boys engage in ‘okada’ operations to transport people around sites. At the forum to present the research findings to small-scale miners, chiefs, religious leaders and other interest groups, Dr. Arkorful observed galamsey activities have taken most of the students from the classroom. Teenage pregnancy is also high in galamsey areas in the country. Some small-scale miners in places like Manso-Nkwanta, Jacobu, Datano, Watreso, Agroyesum and Keniago in the Ashanti Region use their largesse to woo innocent school girls into sexual relationships. The phenomenon has resulted in high teenage pregnancy, giving rise to school dropout among girls. Some members of the small-scale mining association who spoke to TV3 say the research findings will help in their quest to disengage minors in mining operations. They also reiterated their commitment to help the government to sanitize the small-scale mining sector.