She also appealed to lawmakers to join her in the campaign for parents to feed their children at UPE schools
First Lady Janet Museveni delivers her message to women legislators at Entebbe Golf Course Hotel. Photo by Norman Katende
The First Lady and education minister, Janet Museveni, has asked lawmakers to be constantly in touch with their voters and always put themselves in their shoes whenever there is a problem in their constituencies.
Speaking as a guest of honour at a two-day orientation workshop for female MPs at Imperial Golf View Hotel in Entebbe on Saturday, the First Lady said that would make the MPs valued and trusted by their voters.
"I was always with the people I was serving in Ruhaama. I would just put myself in their shoes every time we would discuss their problems and many times we would be able find solutions," Janet, who is the former Ruhaama County MP, revealed.
She also appealed to lawmakers to join her in the campaign for parents to feed their children at schools implementing the education for all programmes.
"I want to really encourage you as Members of Parliament to join me in this campaign for families to begin to think about packed lunch for their children," she said, drawing thunderous applause from the receptive gathering.
"Packed lunch in a modern way, we have to encourage them to think about buying a food flask that will be put in a school bag for every child. If a child goes to school with lunch then we would have solved that problem once and for all and our communities will have played their role in their children's education," Janet implored.
She was addressing the issue of high dropout rates that emerged during the workshop that was attended by development partners and over 150 Women legislators.
The workshop that saw female MPs equipped with skills to negotiate and lobby for gender responsive laws, policies and programmes that will benefit Ugandan men, women and children equitably was organised by the ministry of gender in collaboration with UN Women and United Nations Development Programme.
Prior to 2007, parents used to meet all their children's school expenses. But the advent of Universal Primary Education (UPE), and later Universal Secondary Education (USE), saw government scrapping the payment of tuition fees in all institutions implementing the education for all programmes.
These programmes are, however, being held back by parents' failure to provide their children with meals.
The minister noted that government could not afford to pay for meals of students in UPE and Universal USE schools.
"Right now we want government to be able to cover everything about education. It makes it a bigger challenger to government to cover everything and some of the leaders would rather not discuss that. They want government to also cover school lunch," she said.
On the fight against HIV and AIDs, the First Lady urged MPs to support the Operation Wealth Creation programme because they could no longer look to donors for funds.
"Those countries are fatigued now. They have their own issues in their countries. So that is what makes this wealth creation even more important for Uganda and for us as leaders of the people. It's vital that families begin to earn an income so that we can expand our tax base and then begin to fund our HIV and AIDS," she said.
The minister for gender, Janat Mukwaya, asked the participants to light and hold candles in their hands to commemorate the day.
"Go and mobilise mothers and fathers to know that feeding their children will improve their performance at school," Mukwaya implored.