Poverty robbing learners of their dreams

Friday July 12 2019

Poverty. Children sell foodstuff at their home

Poverty. Children sell foodstuff at their home in Paidha Town Council, Zombo District, in May. PHOTO BY BILL OKETCH  


His hope of becoming a medical doctor upon completion of his education seems to be fading due to inability to pay tuition.
Geoffrey Ekwang, 18, scored aggregate 15 when he first sat for his Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) at Orem Primary School, Bar Sub-county in Lira District in 2017.
However, he was forced to re-sit PLE in 2018 after failing to make it to secondary. That year, Ekwang scored aggregate 11 and was one of Lira District’s best students.
His story is not any different this year, Ekwang is at home because his parents cannot afford his studies.

Early this year, a non-governmental organisation secured a vacancy for Ekwang at Leo Atubu College, but after a month, he was sent back home over tuition.
The school administration said the boy owed them Shs483,000.
“Because my parents had no money, I was left with no option rather than leaving the school and now I’m home working in the garden,” Ekwang says.

Ekwang’s father, Mr Jimmy Lemo Okello, said he has been blessed with nine children but none is at school.
“I am just a peasant farmer. I struggled to send him (Ekwang) to school but now I’m back to zero again,” he said.
But Mr Lemo is not alone. Mr Charles Odoch, a father in Ayer Sub-county, Kole District, said his three children were denied sitting examinations at a government school after he failed to pay their fees balance of Shs8,000 last year.
Ambrose Okwir sat PLE for the third time at Ayer Primary School, Ayer Sub-county in Kole in 2017, due to financial constraints.
Local leaders say poverty that is widespread in Lango sub region of northern Uganda is robbing many bright children of their dreams.

Lira District secretary for education and health George Okello Ayo said: “Many households cannot support the education of their children because the agriculture that they mainly rely on was affected by the prolonged dry spell last planting season.”
Mr Okello said the district cannot support them because there is no specific budget for their education.