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Early Marriages, School Dropout Rate Persist in Lyantonde Despite By-Law

The number of girls dropping out of school to marry continues to increase in Lyantonde district despite availability of a by-law to check the problem. In 2007, Lyantonde district passed a by-law to ensure all children go to school.

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The number of girls dropping out of school to marry continues to increase in Lyantonde district despite availability of a by-law to check the problem.

 

In 2007, Lyantonde district passed a by-law to ensure all children go to school.

 

The details of the by-law were such that all children must go to school and complete at least senior four. The by-law sought to imprison parents who fail to take their children school.

 

Under this by-law, all parents had to pay either some money to buy food at school or they had to take, matooke, maize floor and milk to feed their children while at school.

 

The by-law also set a fine of 100, 000 shillings for all parents who defied the law or six months imprisonment.

 

The district was forced to enact this by-law to address problem of children dropping out of school before completing primary seven and senior four.

 

Parents especially in Kashagama Sub County, Lyantonde town council, Lyantonde rural and Mpumudde Sub County withdrew their girls from schools to force them into early marriages.

 

However, seven years after enactment of this by-law, the situation has not changed.

 

Fatuma Kyomuhangi is the field officer Forum for Women in Democracy, an organization fighting for gender equality, increasing women\'s political participation and political clout based in Lyantonde.

 

Kyomuhangi however says even with the availability of by-law, the number of girls dropping out of school has increased.

 

She says their latest study done in 2013 shows that 65% of the girls drop out of school before completing primary seven.

 

Kyomuhangi explains that their male counterparts study up to primary seven.

 

Some of the schools with the highest number of dropout rate are Kyemamba Primary School, Kayihura Primary School, Kawungu Primary School, Lyakajura Primary School , Mpumudde Primary School among others.

 

According to Kyomuhangi, some parents withdraw their children and force them into marriages when they are as young as 13 years.

 

// Cue in: “ Most of them…

Cue out: …culture is changed.”//

 

Paul Nuwagaba is the head teacher of Kyemamba primary school found in Mpumudde sub county. He says the situation has not changed much. He says in 2014, 20 pupils dropped out of his school to get married.

 

He explains  that they were aged between 12 and 16 years. He says he tried to intervene with the help police and Lyantonde district officials without success.

 

// Cue in: “ Once a girl…

Cue out:…and got married.”//

 

John Kavuma, the head teacher of Lyantonde secondary school, says the dropout rate cuts across all school levels. He explains that in his school had 700 students in 2012. He however says this number had dropped to just 300 students only.

 

Kavuma explains that majority of the girls get pregnant while still in school.

 

// Cue in: “These girls start…

Cue out: …rule it out.”//

 

Medard Byarugaba, the Lyantonde district Education officer and Fred Muhangi, the LC5 Chairman admit there is a problem. Byarugaba says lack of enough secondary schools in Lyantonde leave the parents with no option but to marry off their children.

 

He gives an example of Mpumudde Sub County and Kashagama sub county which have one secondary school each. He says after primary seven, the pupils have nowhere to  study hence they get married.

 

Fred Mugangi, the  Lyantonde LC5 Chairman who is also secretary for education blames the dropout rate on ignorance of parents on the importance of education and lack of sanitary pads.

 

He says they have observed that many girls stop going to school the moment they start their menstruation cycle.

 

Muhangi however says they have intensified sensitization of communities to curb the problem.

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