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Rural students face bleak future with no secondary schools available

By Vision Reporter

Added 3rd February 2009 03:00 AM

LIFE for 15-year-old Sophia Akui is a daily struggle. Living at Ochwen IDP camp in Katakwi is no cup of tea. She and her family stay in a camp because it is where they feel safe.

LIFE for 15-year-old Sophia Akui is a daily struggle. Living at Ochwen IDP camp in Katakwi is no cup of tea. She and her family stay in a camp because it is where they feel safe.

By Joseph Kariuki

LIFE for 15-year-old Sophia Akui is a daily struggle. Living at Ochwen IDP camp in Katakwi is no cup of tea. She and her family stay in a camp because it is where they feel safe.

Akui’s family lost all their livestock to Karimojong rustlers. The family later embarked on farming as a source of income, but the floods that hit the Teso region recently destroyed all their crops. The only hope Akui has is in education. She has just completed primary seven.

Probably Akui will be admitted in one of the 11 O’Level schools in the district. But if she hopes to join A’ Level, she has to work hard.
Katakwi has no A’Level school, according to the district authorities. “All the students have to go to other districts to acquire an A’Level certificate,” says district chairman John Ekongot.

But the situation is not isolated to Katakwi. The 2008 education sector report shows that majority of secondary schools (733) are in the central region while 35 are in north eastern Uganda, 285 in the east, 404 in the west, 266 in the north and 231 in the south west.

There are counties without any secondary school, according to the 2006 education report.
Some of these are: Labwor in Abim district, Kioga in Amolatar, Kole in Apac, Madi-Koro in Arua, Bunyaruguguru and Ruhinda in Bushenyi, Aswa and Omoro in Gulu, Dodoth in Kabong, Kyamuswa in Kalangala, Budiope in Kamuli, Busongora in Kasese, Jie in Kotido, Ngora in Kumi and Manjiya in Manafa.

Others are Bokora and Matheniko in Moroto, West Moyo, Amuria, Buwekula in Mubende, Buvuma Islands in Mukono, Okoro in Nebbi, Agago in Pader, Pallisa, Kabula in Rakai, Budadiri and Bulambuli in Sironko.

Local leaders attribute this to low funding.
“We are unable to raise local revenue. We are trying to raise sh300m, but have failed. Last year we raised only sh100m in revenue collection,” says Ekongot.
Sadly, the lack of education facilities in these areas has demoralised students.

Simon Peter Aupal joined Kotido Primary Teacher College after failing to raise money for an A’ Level school in Soroti.

“The fees were high, so I opted for a PTC,” he says.

The Resident District Commissioner, Joseph Arwata, says insecurity in Katakwi has led to closure of many schools. “It has caused trauma,” he says.
Arwata says the district is addressing the issue of setting up model schools.

However, the Ministry of Education spokesperson Aggrey Kibenge, says the ministry is planning to set up seed schools in such areas to avert the crisis.

By October 2007, the government had constructed 38 schools and had started construction of 25 seed secondary schools, out of the 63 pledged to be put up countrywide. The construction will cost $29.2m (about sh50b).

“The Government has invested a lot of money in infrastructure development and the buildings will not remain empty when completed,” says Francis Lubanga, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary.
Opio says the schools will receive furniture, computers, laboratory equipment, text books and solar power. But until these things have been made, Akui is not sure if she will achieve her dream of being a nurse.

Rural students face bleak future with no secondary schools available

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