Gov't prioritises education for child mothers

By Jeff Andrew Lule

"This will cater for all girls who dropped out of school because of early pregnancies, rape and defilement."

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The Ministry of Education and Sports is working on new policy to ensure that all child mothers who dropped out of school continue with their studies.

The State Minister for Higher Education, John C. Muyingo said the strategy document will soon be reviewed by the ministry's top management for approval and later be presented to cabinet.

"This will cater for all girls who dropped out of school because of early pregnancies, rape and defilement. We want to make sure that this programme caters for such accidents to make sure they complete their education," he noted.

Muyingo revealed on Tuesday while opening the national dialogue on Safe and Positive Learning Environment, at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala

He noted that despite government's effort to ensure quality education for all; many children still dropout due to violence.

"Many children are exposed to sexual harassment, gender based violence and corporal punishments in many schools at the hand of their teachers, parents, and other school members of staff. Others are exposed to bullying among others," he said.

Muyingo noted that statistics show that cases of violence against children account for 25% of those who drop out of school.

Noting that violence against children undermines growth and development of children, Muyingo added: "a safe learning environment is a fundamental right to all children. All international conventions and our laws require us to make sure that these children access a safe positive learning environment".

Muyingo said his ministry together with other stakeholder have come up with a number of intervention areas including establishing a positive legal and policy environment that is supportive to the protection of children' rights including elimination of all forms of violence against children.

The ministry's gender technical advisor, Agela Nakafeero said 75% of children are subject to corporal punishment while sexual abuse (defilement) stands at 5.9%.

 ome of the participants including pupils who attended the ational dialogue on safe and positive learning environment mperial oyale otel in ampala on arch 27 2018 hoto by ancy anyonga Some of the participants including pupils who attended the National dialogue on safe and positive learning environment Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala on March 27, 2018. Photo by Nancy Nanyonga

"This number of sexual abuse seems low but it is high. You find that in every 20 girls, one is defiled. We also realized that there are marriage proposals made to some of these children which also have far implications for their stay in school and retention," he said.

Nakafeero said the ministry is already implementing the policy on violence against children and hope to scale it up throughout all districts. 

She said they are also emphasizing the reporting of cases, working with all line ministries to ensure that all cases reported are concluded.

"Many cases are never concluded due to mismanagement by investigators and sometimes learners and parents withdraw cases," she noted.

The UNICEF representative, Doreen Mulenga said there are many ways of ensuring that children are disciplined without applying corporal punishment.

"We all come with cultural systems and some think s beating children is right. We need to condemn it. It should be a community dialogue on what is acceptable," she noted.

The director, Basic and Secondary Education, Robinson Nsumba-Lyazi said corporal punishments are hurting and demeaning, and at times discourage children.

He said teachers only need to guide children on what is good and wrong.