Student population in Ugandan schools falls over Rwanda border row

Monday July 1 2019

Katuna Primary School in Katuna town council,

Katuna Primary School in Katuna town council, Uganda. URN PHOTO 

By URN

The closure of the Katuna border post between Uganda and Rwanda has affected a number of schools in border districts in terms of student population. 

Rwanda closed its borders with Uganda early this year, to purportedly expedite the construction of the single customs post at Katuna.

During this time, the Rwandan government advised its nationals against crossing to Uganda arguing that they could not guarantee the safety of their nationals in the Ugandan territory.

Rwanda accused Uganda of hosting and facilitating dissidents especially members of the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which have declared war on the Kigali government.

However, the directives which were followed with the destruction of all temporary bridges near the border affected a number of Rwandan nationals, who used to cross to Uganda for studies.

A number of schools have now reported a drastic fall in student numbers as hundreds of Rwandan learners never reported for the second term of school that started on May 27, 2019.

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The deputy head teacher of Katuna Primary School, Mr Nazario Mubangizi said that the school had about 105 Rwandan pupils out of the total population of 355 pupils, but none of them have reported back to the school for second term due to border restrictions.

Mr Joab Tumwebarize, the Director of Kabale Trinity College in Kabale Municipality said that all the students who crossed to Rwanda during first term holidays never reported back to school for the second term. 

Mr Ronald Beinomugisha Katungi, the Public Relations Officer of Bishop Barham University College Kabale - a constituent College of Uganda Christian University, says that about 120 students were blocked from crossing to Uganda for studies during the April intake.  Mr Beinomugisha added that another five theology students were blocked from crossing to Uganda for their graduation. 

“This University was enrolling about 120 Rwandan students every academic year, but since the borders were closed, the students were restrained from crossing back to Uganda. We are now counting losses since we don’t even expected new students in the forthcoming September intake,” he said.

Mr Beinomugisha appeals to the governments of both countries to settle the matter so that business returns to normal. 

Mr Jean-Batista Byaruhanga, a parent from Burera District in northern Rwanda said they received an order from authorities restraining them from crossing to Uganda for any service. Mr Byaruhanga appeals to Rwandan President Paul Kagame to open the border and save his own people from the suffering they have been subjected to.

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