In Busoga Sub-region, efforts are being made to reduce the number of students dropping out of school, with a particular focus on addressing the challenges faced by young girls like Joan Nabirye.
Nabirye, a 16-year-old primary school dropout from Iganga District, shared her experience of leaving school due to financial constraints. Her family couldn’t afford the Shs30,000 fee required for the Universal Primary Education program. Consequently, she had to choose between early marriage and working as a domestic worker for a monthly pay of Shs50,000.
Nabirye’s story is not unique in Busoga Sub-region, where it’s estimated that 91 percent of children aged 11 to 19 in Jinja District lack access to secondary education. Research by the Science Publishing Group in 2019 highlighted this concerning trend, emphasizing the need for urgent attention.
The high school dropout rate in the region is attributed to several factors, including low economic status, unemployment, low-paying jobs, alcoholism, and poor health. Children from low-income households in Busoga Sub-region often face limited opportunities.
Constance Kantono, a resident of Buyala, Jinja District, shared her experience of being forced into an arranged marriage at the age of 11. She missed out on her education and faced early pregnancy complications. Kantono’s story reflects the challenges many young girls in the region encounter.
Adrian Ndemere, the national chairperson of Uganda Association of Private Vocational Institutions (UGAPRIVI), highlighted that the high costs of training and materials in vocational institutions are significant barriers to education in Busoga Sub-region.
However, state actors are taking steps to address these issues. President Museveni has expressed his commitment to providing free education in government schools, from primary to technical schools. He emphasized that education should not be seen as a business but as a means of achieving social and economic transformation.
Mr. Ndemere also emphasized the importance of vocational training in reducing dropout rates. Vocational institutions offer modular training in employable skills, allowing individuals to acquire competencies and progress to higher education levels.
The government is working on various interventions to improve skill development among young people in the region. The Belgium government’s Enabel initiative is set to support Busoga Sub-region, benefiting approximately 70,000 youth.
The hope is that these efforts will prevent young girls in Busoga Sub-region from facing the challenges and obstacles that led to Joan Nabirye’s dropout from school.