The rampant cases of school dropout and early marriages in primary schools in Kabarole district is alarming and worrying the district leaders and partners.
The vice has forced the district authorities, partners and parents to embark on a campaign of “Go back to school, Stay in school and Complete school”.
Karangura sub county is leading in Kabarole with high number of cases of school drop outs and early marriage over years.
Both the leaders, partners and parents have raised red flag on the Go back to school campaign in the middle of second term promising to continue to third term to end the vice.
Kabarole District Education Officer Patrick Rwakaikara said in the past they were helped by the UNICEF in the go back to school campaign but later withdrawn and by then the number of students and pupils in schools were high.
“The go back to school campaign is good but the challenge we have in Kabarole district is that pupils who join primary one doesn’t complete primary seven and when it comes to Karangura Sub County, it’s worse. I also blame some of the school head teachers who don’t invite us to address parents during meetings because some of them don’t value the importance of education,” Patrick Rwakaikara said.
Ms Anna Kasiime a parent reasons that early marriage is due to backward culture where some of the parents tell their children that they were also married at tender age saying that there is no need for girl child education that the in low family will benefit.
“To end all this, we need to start arresting all local council chairpersons who fail to report cases of early marriage and school drop in their villages to police but I hope this new campaign of go back to school will solve it,” Ms Anna Kasiime said.
The Kabarole district chairperson Mr. Rwabuhinga Richard said in Karangura Sub County it’s not early marriage but described the practice as “forced marriage”.
“I don’t know the thinking of our people. In this mountainous sub county, when a girl turns 15years, she is forced into marriage by parents,” Chairman said.
“Every day I go to meet Karangura residents, I condemn the practice of early marriage. This is not a reflection of Kabarole district but the problem needs to be addressed,” Mr Rwabuhinga said.
School Dropout Statistics
The records at Kibyo primary school show that in 2007 a total of 35 girls were enrolled for primary one and only 8 girls completed primary seven in 2013 while 25 boys started primary one and 9 completed primary seven.
A total of 10 girls completed primary seven in 2014 out of 34 who were enrolled in primary one, 7 boys completed out of 27 who had started primary one.
In 2015, a total of 11 out of 33 girls who had enrolled for P.1 completed P.7 while 9 boys also completed out of 26 who were enrolled at primary one.
In 2016, only 12 girls completed out of 30 who were enrolled in primary one while 12 boys completed out 34 who had started primary one.
According to 2017 statistics, a total of 14 girls completed out of 34 who had registered for primary one while 9 boys completed out of 33 who were in primary one.
The records at Kamabale primary school show that the average completion rate for the last five years of boys is at 42 percent while for girls are at 32 percent.
At the same school, in 2017 a total of 19 girls completed primary seven out of 45 who were enrolled in primary one while 2016, only 10 girls completed out of the 61 who started primary one.
At Mt.Gesi primary school the completion rate of boys for last five years is 42 percent while that of girls stands at 47 percent.
In 2016, 16 girls completed primary seven out of 33 girls who started primary one and in 2017, also 16 girls completed out 35 that joined in primary one.
Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS)
The National Population and Housing Census of 2014 also shows that Karangura Sub County in Kabarole district ,girls between the ages 10 to 19 who had given birth were 20.1 percent and 6 to 12 years who are not in school were at 22.2 percent.
Early 2018, SOS children’s village Fort Portal a non-governmental organization that looks after vulnerable children carried out survey in Karangura Sub County. It shows that 72 percent of girls in the sub county are forced into early marriages.
The statistics also indicated that the completion rate of pupils in primary school is at 37.4 percent with high number of drop out being girls.
The program director SOS children’s village Mr Robert Bahenyangi said the advocacy campaign of stay in school should be implemented in all communities and building capacity of child protection committees at parish to keep watch of child abuse cases.
Intervention To End Teenage Marriage
As an intervention to reduce and end the vice of early marriages, NGOs like PLATFORM for the NEEDY (PLANE) has embark on the campaign of identifying and training Community Advocacy Ambassadors in this sub county of Kabarole district who will move around schools and communities meeting children, parents and leaders spreading the massage of stay in school and complete school campaign.
The Executive Director PLANE Mr Steven Ainganiza Waddell said they have identified 124 Teenage Mothers who dropped in schools in the parishes of Kibaga , Kamabale and Kyabwire who are now given skills to share experience with parents and children in communities and schools respectively arguing them to stay away from marrying off their daughters highlighting the dangers of he vice.
Waddell said, “These Young Mothers have been mobilized into groups and are now being empowered through acquiring entrepreneurship skills and start up savings and credit and engaging in agricultural projects like cultivation of cow peas, Irish potatoes, onions among others to improve on their income to look after their children.
“The teenage mothers that we have identified will help us in go back to school campaign and the same time we are empowering them by giving them different skills on how to do farming as one way of improving their livelihood,” He added.