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UPE Schools Remain Empty Two Months After Reopening

Namuli says that some pupils dropped out of school after getting pregnant, others are working as housemaids whereas other parents are holding them at home due to their inability to contribute lunch fees of Shillings 20,000.
Benson Masereka a teacher in P.5 class at Kibose COU Primary School

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Several Government Primary Schools in Nakaseke district are still half-empty two months after reopening. The government reopened schools on Monday, January 10th January 2022, after 22 months of unprecedented closure triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The schools are expected to break off for holidays on April 15th, 2022. But one month to the closure of the first term, several government schools are still reporting a low turn up of learners compared to the number they had prior to the lockdown.

Some of the affected schools are Kamuli, Luteete, Kibose, Mbuukiro, Butiikwa and Kiruuli Primary school. At Kibose Church of Uganda Primary School, the Deputy Headteacher, Gloria Namuli, says that only 144 out of 400 pupils returned to school.

Namuli says that some pupils dropped out of school after getting pregnant, others are working as housemaids whereas other parents are holding them at home due to their inability to contribute lunch fees of Shillings 20,000. 

Namuli says that they intend to call a parent's meeting to announce a reduction in lunch fees so as to encourage them to send back their children to school.

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At Luteete Church of Uganda Primary school, the Deputy Headteacher, Harriet Nakijjoba, said that before the COVID-19 pandemic, the school had 502 pupils but only 418 pupils returned. 

However, on Tuesday, only 196 pupils were present at the school when our reporter visited. Nakijjoba says that several boys never returned to school because they are involved in bricklaying while girls are involved in domestic work.

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The Headteachers working with local leaders and Non-Government organisations intend to launch sensitization campaigns to encourage learners to return to school.

Frank Muhoozi, the Luteete Parish Councillor in Kikamulo sub-county, says that several boys are seen engaging in bricklaying, which they learnt during the lockdown.

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Ignatius Koomu, the LC 5 of Chairperson of Nakaseke district has blamed the poor turn up on parents’ negligence and vowed to launch a campaign to ensure they are forced to send back the learners to school.

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Last year, Nakaseke district announced the closure of Gomero Primary School in Ngoma Town Council because of the high pupil dropout rate.  There are 114 government-aided primary schools in Nakaseke district.

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