The right of the girl child is yet to be appreciated in many corners of Uganda. Even where interventions like access to education are in place, some sections of the public glued on their cultural practices are not about to take heed.
Early marriages in Arua are deeply rooted in community folklore and the parents are not hesitant to withdraw a young girl out of school to give them away with “sufficient reasons.” Now, after 20 years of operation in the West Nile sub-region, World Vision, a Christian Non-Governmental Organisation, has said it will pull out of Arua District if people do not change their attitude towards education of the girl child.
The organisation is worried that all their efforts aimed at promoting education of the girl child have been frustrated by parents who are more interested in marrying off their teenage daughters than sending them to school. Speaking at the commissioning of a Shs120 million classroom project at Eyii Primary School in Offaka Sub-county recently, Mr James Kahwa, the World Vision team leader in-charge of the northern region, said they have been disappointed by lack of parental support.
“We have drawn our five-year development plan and at the end of forth year we shall review it. If there is no improvement on the side of parents, we shall have no choice but to take this opportunity to other communities,” Mr Kahwa said.
If they pulled out, the locals would miss out on several intervention measures in girl-child education, water and sanitation, which they have enjoyed for more than 20 years of World Vision operation.
The head teacher, Mr Felix Angule, said the community has a negative attitude towards education of girls, adding that parents sometimes connive with defilers to acquit the latter in courts, living the school authorities disarmed. But the district chairperson, Mr Sam Nyakua, pleaded with the NGO not to pull out of the district but exercise patient.
World Vision has been operating in Arua District for about 20 years, mainly at Offaka Sub-county, an area which is viewed by many as still attached to traditional beliefs.
The Officer in-charge of Family and Child Protection at the district, Ms Lily Dravuru, said there is need for parents to be responsible and report cases of child abuse to police. “Parents must change their attitude towards their children but through community policing, we hope they will change their attitude and mind set and send their children to school,” she said.