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Rice fields keep pupils of St. Namunasa out of school

By Vision Reporter

Added 12th August 2001 03:00 AM

Their life is the Doho rice scheme. The scheme is the life blood of many pupils of St Namunasa Primary School.

Their life is the Doho rice scheme. The scheme is the life blood of many pupils of St Namunasa Primary School.

By Angela Kamugasa Their life is the Doho rice scheme. The scheme is the life blood of many pupils of St Namunasa Primary School. Though the school benefits from the Universal Primary Education (UPE) programme, some children still miss out on this free education. But even those in school are usually withdrawn at any time and without warning to work in the rice fields. Faziri Mwima is one of those often withdrawn from school. “I was badly bitten by leeches that drain blood out of the body. When I got better I had to go back to the fields to plant rice,” Mwima recalls. The children are also at risk of being bitten by water snakes. If they are lucky to kill the snakes before they harm them. Mwima who works without pay says. “During the weekends and public holidays, I tend the fields from 6:00 am to 2:00 pm. This involves chasing away the birds so that they do not eat the rice and also transplanting rice,the 13-year-old P5 pupil says. According to Mr David Nambula, the headteacher, most parents do not value education. They would rather have their children tend the rice fields than go to school. Hamuzadi Madambo, a parent of five at the school says: “My children tend the fields from 7:00 am - 2:00 pm whenever the need arises. Sometimes there is scarcity of food and I have to withdraw them from school. You know our way of doing things is African.” The headteacher finds this very frustrating. “I have tried to sensitise parents on the value of education but their priorities are different. This is the major reason why the academic performance here is very poor. Few children can cope,” he says. He adds: “In the year 2000, the school registered no first grade. There were only five second grades out of 23 candidates sat for the Primary Leaving Examinations(PLE). Of these six did not go to secondary school while four repeated P7. In 1999, the school got two first grades out of the 35 candidates who sat the exam. The International Programme for the Elimination of Child labour-International Labour Organisation (IPEC-ILO) and the Federation of Uganda Employers (FUE) contributed money towards the purchase of scholastic materials and uniforms for about 300 pupils of eight schools in Tororo, Doho rice scheme. FUE and the Rural Development Communication team were there to assess the situation of child abuse in the district. Currently, the P7 school population stands at 600 pupils. Last year, they were over 700 but the number keeps fluctuating, Nambula says. The school boasts of eight teachers and three permanent buildings with no windows and doors. There is no furniture. The children sit on the floor on synthetic sacks and polythene bags that they carry from home. Most of them are barefoot which is typical of rural pupils. But with UPE, there is hope for them.

Rice fields keep pupils of St. Namunasa out of school

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