Despite having Universal Primary Education (UPE), 11,593 children of school-going age in Amuru District are not in school, a report has revealed.
According to a study conducted on the standards of education and life skills among the young population in Amuru, between July 2018 and June this year, 5,913 girls and 5,680 boys, translating into 19.2 per cent, are not accessing education for various reasons.
While unveiling the findings at the closure of Live Your Dream Moment campaign by Reach a Hand Uganda, a local non governmental organisation, Mr John Bosco Olum, the Amuru District community development officer, on Wednesday, said the figures were a result of child labour and limited number of learning facilities in the district.
The report notes that only 33,518 children;17,202 boys and 16,316 girls, representing 74.9 per cent of the same age group, are in primary schools.
“We did an assessment and the situation is alarming. Parents engage their children in farming, while there are limited early childhood development centres. Most of these primary schools are located far away from learners,” Mr Olum said.
He also revealed that a number of children move to far places such as Lakang, Apaa or Layima to work on commercial farms.
The report also notes that Amuru Town Council has the highest number of children out of school, followed by Lamogi and Paboo sub-counties.
“We are encouraging more private persons to open up nursery and private schools. We are partnering with Reach a Hand Uganda, to enforce measures that will induce parents to take and keep their children in school,” Mr Olum added.
Information from the district education department indicates that the number of girls in primary schools across the district was high from Primary One to Primary Four, but it is low in Primary Five to Primary Seven classes.
“That is why we are coming with several interventions in the district in an attempt to alleviate and salvage this situation because each and every child today counts a lot tomorrow,” Ms Patricia Nangiro, a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) official, said.
She added: “With support of Reach a Hand Uganda, we seek to inspire action in these young people towards a better life which focuses on unleashing their full potential.”
During a council meeting two weeks ago, it was revealed that absenteeism and school dropout rates were highest among girls.
“Much as the challenge is there, the gap on our side as leaders is that we don’t have clear policies or laws that can compel parents and the learners themselves to comply and be in school to study because of absence of logistics to enforce them,” Mr John Bosco Ochan, the Amuru District vice chairman said. Recently, the district passed a resolution to charge parents who failed to provide their children’s feeding in school and those that barred them from attending schools.
Any parent found guilty will pay Shs50,000 per pupil in a move aimed at mitigating high school dropout rate and poor performance in the district.
Mr Martin Akero, the Amuru Sub- county councillor, said the available schools do not carry out school feeding, a factor that would necessitate learners to keep in school.
“The district has 51 government schools, out of 100 pupils, at least 35 abscond classes and choose to stay home with their parents because there is nothing they can eat,” Mr Akera said.
Ms Joyce Lanyero, the district education officer said the school feeding programme across the district failed because many parents disowned it.
Meanwhile, 4,081 (21.7 per cent) teenage girls in the district, of between ages 12 and 19 years have given birth, while 4,564 girls aged 10 to 19 years old, were discovered to be married.