The Hershey Co. has launched a high-tech distance-learning program connecting elementary-school-age children in Derry Township with their counterparts in Ghana, the chocolate maker said today.
The program uses advanced video teleconferencing equipment to create a “virtual classroom” in which 11- and 12-year-olds from the Milton Hershey School and the FOSCO Demonstration School in Ghana learn together about cocoa growing and chocolate manufacturing.
The students in Ghana learn about and report on the cocoa production in their region, while the Hershey students report on how cocoa becomes chocolate. The African children get to sample Hershey chocolate, “with many trying chocolate for the first time,” according to a news release.
The program is part of Hershey’s larger “Learning to Grow” initiative. Originally planned for 10 modules over two months, organizers have decided to extend the program through the academic year, the release said.
The program is a partnership of Hershey; IT provider Cisco Systems Inc.; the Milton Hershey School; The Hershey Story museum, where the U.S. component of the videoconferencing takes place; Source Trust, a nonprofit “focused on sustainable farming practices”; and several African organizations.
“Learning to Grow” is part of a $10 million effort Hershey announced in January to reduce child labor and improve wellbeing in African cocoa-producing regions. In October, the company said it would buy 100 percent of its cocoa from certified, sustainable sources by 2020.
Earlier this month, a pension fund filed a lawsuit against Hershey over child-labor issues.