By Joyce Namutebi
Distribution of free sanitary towels in selected schools, provision of washrooms for adolescent girls and supply of a spare skirt or dress, lesu (wrapper) and soap are among tactics to be adopted by the Government in a bid to keep girls in school.
Jessica Alupo, the education and sports minister, revealed on Thursday that the Government had a deliberate plan to keep the girl children in school.
Alupo was responding to a query by the Parliament’s committee on education. They wanted to know what the ministry was doing on the girl-child considering that some of them drop out of school when they start menstruation.
“The gender unit has developed guidelines for the improvement of sanitary facilities in schools, with recommendations to include water points for washing hands at each of the latrines, washrooms or changing rooms or restrooms for adolescent girls with a spare skirt or dress, lesu (wrapper) and soap,” Alupo told the committee on Thursday.
She disclosed that the ministry with support from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), is developing a pilot project on options for managing menstrual hygiene in schools in rural Uganda.
“The project will pilot the distribution of sanitary towels to a number of girls in selected schools, the provision of water and latrines in the schools, reproductive health education and promotion of locally made sanitary pads,” Alupo said.
“The goal of the project, she said, will be to test and recommend a cost-effective and acceptable intervention for managing menstrual hygiene in primary schools. The best interventions will then be scaled up to all schools in the country,” the minister added.
Another intervention, Alupo said, is finalisation of a “menstrual reader”, which spells out the standard of care of menstrual hygiene.
“The reader will be published and distributed to all girls in school and will be disseminated to key stakeholders to enable them support the girl-child.”
The minister, together with a team of senior officials from the ministry had appeared before the committee to discuss their budget.
For years, MPs, including the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga have been requesting the Government to supply free sanitary towels to girls.
On Makerere University Business School status, the minister noted that the National Council for Higher Education advised that the institution be established as other degree-awarding institutions and developed to become a fully-fledged university.
She said the Cabinet supported this position and authorised her to proceed to the Attorney General for drafting the instrument to that effect.