The district authorities and non-governmental organisations in Masindi and Kiryandongo are struggling to contain the rising number of child labourers. Masindi Resident District Commissioner (RDC) David Matovu said they have intensified efforts to combat child labour, which is especially rampant in tobacco farms in the two districts.
“This is a war that we have started and we must emerge as winners. This is a long-term development to liberate children,” Maj. Matovu said during a graduation ceremony for child rights activists trained under the Child Labour Elimination Advocacy Network (CLEAN), in Masindi last week. The training was facilitated by Platform for Labour Action (PLA).
According to the authorities, the increase in child labour in the two district has led to a rise in absenteeism of pupils from schools and poor academic performance. “Of the 1,900 pupils we have in this school, only 1,500 attend lessons on a daily basis.
Many of them only appear during examination time and the best they can do is to fail all the exams and have no option but to repeat classes,” Ms Annet Agugizibwe, the head teacher of Siriba Primary School, told Daily Monitor last week. The head teacher of Katulikire Primary School, Ms Pelgreen Barungi, attributed the problem to negative attitude towards education and poverty.
“The people here are of the view that since they did not go to school and they are surviving, their children can do it too. Other parents are poor and they are just squatters who do not own land, so when they hire land, they take their children with them to cultivate the piece of land and the children only come back to school when planting or harvesting is finished,” Mr Barungi said.
The Masindi District Educational Officer, Mr Francis Kyomuhendo, said the authorities in the two districts will work hand-in-hand with NGOs to resolve the problem.
“We have to work in close cooperation with NGOs because we (district officials) lack funds to do it alone,” Mr Kyomuhendo said.