Right to Education? I stay out of school for my family.

Last year the Observer reported that in some areas in Uganda the school dropout rate for girls is about 84 percent. Reports have shown that the national primary school dropout rates for girls in Uganda is at 20% annually and about four times more in some districts in the northern and eastern parts of the country (mostly affected by the 23 year war.)

In Lira at one of the OutPatient rooms I watched as girls as young as 10 spent a whole day in queues carrying their young siblings as their either pregnant or sick mothers waited in line. It was a school day and all these girls had missed school. Often when a woman has many children, it’s the girl child who stays back to literally raise her siblings at the expense of her education. Also I met girls about 15 years with children or pregnant at this health center. Catherine Abor, one peace activist told me when i asked why this is going  “the men here have no mercy for these women. They say the war reduced their clans and therefore women must produce as many as possible. This means many don’t support girls to go beyond primary school.” May be its not a mercy thing. But these attitudes keep the girls out of school and so does the lack of coherent policies to back the universal primary education that was introduced more than 10 years ago. The human development issues this country faces cannot be overcome if we can’t keep the girl child in school.

Here are the girls I met.

Last year UNESCO ranked Uganda as country with highest school dropout rate in East Africa. Girls dropout most due to teenage pregnancy and marriage.
A follow-up of every 100 pupils who joined Primary One in 1999, showed that only 25 children in Uganda reached Primary Seven in 2006. Kenya had 84% reaching Primary Seven. Tanzania stood at 81% and Rwanda at 74%--UNESCO.
Most girls that drop out of school are likely to be married off before they are 18 and this means they will have more children and the cycle of poverty never breaks.
Other reports have shown costs of schooling and family responsibilities drive thousands of Ugandan children out of school.

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