The closure of schools which has lasted close to two years has sent many would-be learners into employment, scores of them working in paid and unpaid forms of work in the mines in Moroto, Kaabong and Nakapiripirit districts. Area leaders fear that many of these children might never return to school, even after the reopening in January.
The plan by the community to build community schools near mining sites is based on the fact that the nearest school from Nakabaat mining site that has hundreds of school-going age children is 12 kilometers.
Most hotel managers in Moroto have revealed that they largely depend on unskilled workers who get hands-on job training. The few skilled labor force is hired from outside the region mainly to take up key positions.
The construction of the multi-purpose workshop was funded by the Embassy of Ireland with 320,000 Euros, approximately 1.33 billion Shillings and it is under the bigger ‘Support to Skilling Uganda Project’ aimed to raise quality and quantity of skills provision and ensure that more girls and women attain skills training relevant for the local labour market and the economy.
Aleper says they cannot trace 161 boys and 117 girls who have failed to report back to school. He explains that most of the affected pupils are from Rupa and Tapac sub-counties where major mining activities take place.
The centre was officially closed on Thursday and all suspected cases advised to self-isolate from their homes, according to the Moroto Resident District Commissioner Helen Pulkol. The centre had 18 isolated cases at the time of its closure.
The food distribution is also aimed at ensuring that school-going children in the region have access to food while at home at a time when many households in the region are struggling to get meals because of food insecurity.
Up to 29 girls, now in upper primary and secondary school, have managed to sponsor the education of 43 other disadvantaged children at Kasmeri Primary School and contributed to the construction of three semi-permanent houses to shelter three elderly persons caring for orphans.
Edward Eko, the Senior Principal Chief Administrative Officer Moroto noted that the open air messages was the best was the best way to reach illiterate members of the community who do not have access to the mainstream media like radio, television.
He was speaking on Friday at St. Daniel Comboni Polytechnic Naoi, a catholic founded technical school in Moroto supported by Enabel, a Belgian organization which is implementing the skilling program in Karamoja. This was part of an official visit to oversee the implementation of skilling program in Karamoja.
The college was promised by President Museveni during the 2016 campaigns. Shortly after the elections, a task-force led by Dr Sidonia Angom Ochieng was set up to start the process of establishing the university college.
Sources at school indicate that the pupils left school for their villages in Katakwi district on foot. Nickson Igulot, the deputy head teacher Moroto Army Primary School, says he is surprised that the pupils disappeared from school.
Karamoja Affairs Minister, Eng. John Byabagambi says he has been instructed by the government to conduct an audit to ascertain whether the food given by the World Food Programme-WFP and the Office of the Prime Minister reaches its intended beneficiaries.
The development follows cases of mismanagement of food in schools, health facilities and community, specifically in Karamoja Sub Region, where WFP assistance reaches nearly a quarter of a million people. Reports indicate that quite often, aid food has ended up in the market where it is openly sold to willing buyers.
Usami, who concluded his two- day visit to Moroto and Nakapiripirit districts in Karamoja observed that there is a lot of potential in the region that can transform the region except that people have limited technology.
The education sector received an additional 500 million Shillings from the 5.2 billion Shillings appropriated in the current financial year, while administration, which is currently at 4.5 billion Shillings has been raised to 5.6 billion Shillings in the next financial year.