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Maize earns them school fees

By Vision Reporter

Added 8th July 2001 03:00 AM

Times are tough. Children have hit the streets to make a difference in their lives. Gone are the days when they would sit back and wait for hand-outs. The economic pressure has left them no option.

By Angela Kamugasa Times are tough. Children have hit the streets to make a difference in their lives. Gone are the days when they would sit back and wait for hand-outs. The economic pressure has left them no option. Ronald Mutalya, 13years, resides in Kawempe. He is in primary 6, at Godstar primary school, Kawempe. Mutalya sells maize to get fees. "I started selling maize last year because there was no money for school fees. My mother buys maize then steams it. My siblings and I then go out each to sell a portion of the maize. "Since our father died in 1998, we have had to survive on our own," he explains. One maize cob costs sh200. On average, Mutalya says, he makes sh10,000 per evening. His school fees per term are sh40,000. Mutalya and his brothers' daily earnings are given to their mother, Mutalya says. "Our mother pays our school fees. The money we earn is put aside for building a house in, Buwegye village, Jinja and for our school basic requirements. This is our mummy's initiative," he says. Carrying a huge basket filled with maize on his head, Mutalya prowls the streets of Kampala searching for potential customers. The lanky boy carries his load with hope for a better life. On a typical weekday, he gets up at 6:00 am to collect firewood. By 7:00 am after a quick breakfast, he is at school. While, his classmates break off from school at 8:00 pm, Mutalya is off at 5:30 pm. "My mother appealed to the school authorities to release me earlier so that I could sell maize to raise my school fees," he adds. After selling maize, he is faced with the challenge of catching up with his classmates. "I copy notes during break and lunch time. Nevertheless, during lunch time there are times when I go back home to help mummy wash up the dishes and fetch water.' For a 13-year-old, he sure has a busy day with hardly anytime to play. Mutalya's day ends at 9:00 pm if the maize has sold out fast. Otherwise, it will take him as late as 11:00 pm before he retires to bed. Theirs is a family that continually toils day after day. The three boys sell maize everyday in different parts of town. His brothers sell to people at the Pioneer Mall in Kampala. His success has attracted his neighbour, Abdul Kanyike, 11 years, to the maize business. You can tell he is new to it because he lacks confidence when dealing with customers. Old timer, Mutalya continually admits that with this schedule he has no time to revise. He is so stressed out that he honestly does not know what he wants to be in future. "My favourite subject is science. I am not sure what I want to be in future because I may study but then the money might get finished," he says. As he speaks you note the insecurity in his voice. For him, education is not a right but a privilege. You walk away saddened that Mutalya and Kanyike's childhood has been snatched away from them. They are working pupils. Ends

Maize earns them school fees

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