ONC Coordinators reveal how early marriages, teenage pregnancies and Child Labour have caused girl’s dropouts from schools in Kirayandongo District

Opok Primary School is located in Kichabugingo Sub-County in Kiryandongo District. The Office of the National Chairman Coordinator Ms Irene Adokorach visited the school on Wednesday to monitor the Universal Primary Education implementation as directed by HE Yoweri Kaguta Museveni recently.

Despite the similar challenges in most of the UPE schools of inadquent basic requirements; desks, textbooks, – the high school dropout rate of girls shocked the ONC coordinator. The headteacher of the school Mr Besisira Peter with a heavy heart explained the situation to be a result of child labour, teenage pregnancies and low parent sensitization.

According to the Headteacher, the girls start dropping out from primary four onwards. and some parents are alleged to marry off their daughters for material gains in the form of dowry. Many young girls of age 9 – 17 years are flooded into trading centers selling merchandise and grocery. Mr Besisira asked the Office of the National Chairman to request the President to instruct all the lower local governments to enact by-laws in response to this challenge.

Ms. Irene said to have engaged the District Education Officer over this alarming challenge and he said to be aware of the whole situation. The DEO Mr Kirya Edward said that parents abandoned their family roles to the government and there is an urgent need for intensified sensitization. However, as the district, they are ensuring that all challenges to enable a safe learning environment are being resolved according to the financial capabilities of the district.

Ms. Irene added that some parents negotiate with the defilers of their children and the majority of the criminals walk free since there is non to follow-up on the cases or even report the same to Uganda Police.

At the commencement of this second term, the enrollment at Opok Primary School was 964 pupils and above but the numbers have dropped to 820 and below with girls affected at most of now.

President Museveni passed a directive stopping school management from charging fees in all government schools to enable easy access to education for all the poor. Ms Irene said that this is being observed but the poor parent’s sensitization on the value of education and the weak leadership systems in the local government systems are strongly failing the program.