How pandemic shattered Nakintu’s dream of becoming a teacher

Irene Nakintu 

What you need to know:

  • When the country announced lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 to curb the spread of Covid-19, the most affected were school-going children, many of them staying home for close to two years

“My name is Irene Nakintu and I am 16 years old. I live in Kisoga Village, Kayunga Sub-county, Kayunga District.

I sat for my Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) last year from Kisoga Roman Catholic Primary School and I scored aggregate 12 in PLE.

However, despite my good grade, I have failed to continue with secondary education because my mother, Ms Gladys Ndagire, says she doesn’t have money to pay for my education. Previously before the outbreak of Covid-19, my mother was selling second-hand clothes to earn a living.

However, when the pandemic struck in 2020, my mother’s business closed after she spent all her working capital to look after me and my siblings. This was during the two years of lockdown when she was not working well as she had to fend for us.

Currently, my single mother of four children fends for us by selling some agricultural produce. The earnings from this, however, is very little since she does it on a subsistence scale. Since this year began, I have tried to look for what to do in vain.

I was taken to Kampala in January to work as a housemaid, but I only worked for one month and returned home because of mistreatment and little salary of Shs70,000 a month. I am now at home stranded and only go with my mother to the garden to dig. I really feel so bad and distressed when I see my former classmates going to school.

Sometimes I am forced to hide myself in the house when I see them because I feel ashamed. Staying at home the whole time is also bad, I feel so bored.

My breasts have grown and some people tell me that I am now ripe for marriage. My biggest challenge is men who want me to go off with them. Some abuse me when I reject their sexual advances. This makes me even more irritated and dejected because I realise that my dream of becoming a teacher has been shattered.

I had wanted to become a teacher because teachers are respected in society and are knowledgeable.

If there is anyone who can help me complete my education, I am ready to go back to school. When my mother visited a school under Universal Secondary Education programme in our area, they asked for Shs200,000 as tuition fees, which she doesn’t have.

‘If I get school fees I can buy the uniforms and

scholastic materials myself.”

Nakintu’s mother speaks out

“I also feel bad that my daughter is no longer going to school. I am trying to see if I can raise some money to take her to start learning tailoring skills. I think if she learns this, it would be able to brighten her future,” she says.

“The other three siblings of Nakintu, who are in still in primary school, are frequently sent back home over failure to complete schools dues. I ask anyone who can assist my child to go back to school to give me a helping hand,” she adds.