Faith Kabafumu, the OC in charge of the Child Protection Unit, says that children are the most affected in these cases. She says that the COVID-19 lockdown has exposed children to a risky lifestyle and to offenders who usually take advantage of their age and domestic challenges.
According to the Head teacher of the school, Saidi Orikiriza, the community used to fund the operations of the school by paying 3 Million Shillings every term, but currently, they can’t even realize 200,000 Shillings.
Grace Pamela Adong, the Bundibugyo District Probation Officer, says a number of girls aged between 13 and 18 years might not return to school because they are either married, breastfeeding or still be pregnant.
According to the DEO Bundibugyo District Justus Bithaghalire, the district had given a go ahead to schools that scored atleast 60 percent of the recommended Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) issued the Ministry of Education and Health to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Silver Kyomuhendo, a science teacher at the government aided Bubukwanga secondary school in Bubukwanga Sub County, explains that her school hasn’t received some teaching guide and materials like text books from the Ministry as planned. She says to resolve this problem they have been forced to start WhatsApp where they can share the material.
In Bundibugyo district there are no Kwamba and Lhubwisi instruction materials (books) to use under the thematic program for lower primary. The Bamba and Babwisi account for more than 50 percent of the population in Bundibugyo but Schools instead use Lhukonzo instruction materials.
Richard Magezi, the Bundibugyo District Inspector of Schools notes that the schools have been operating boarding sections illegally until when they conducted an impromptu visit on Wednesday and caught them rend handed.
Last week, UNEB announced that it had withheld the results of eleven schools in Bundibugyo over allegations of examination malpractice affecting 600 candidates. UNEB disclosed that it had received information from security indicating that some teachers had been found writing answers for candidates on chalkboards and that the parents of the learners had paid Shillings 50,000 to facilitate the malpractice.
The Bundibugyo District Inspector of Schools - DIS, John Byamukama, says from the day the results were withheld, he has met a number of parents who have confessed that some head teachers asked them to contribute some money a few days to the examination but didnt tell them what is was meant for.
Arnold Bagonza, a parent of Ntandi Primary School says the district was harsh in its decision. He says the SMCs members have been visiting the school and interacting with teachers and the parents frequently.
Vincent Kamara, the school head teacher says that six out of the 17 teachers have since abandoned the school saying they will only be available when the school gets toilet facilities. Those who are available, he adds, prefer to use nearby bushes for convenience to avoid the embarrassment of lining up with the pupils for a latrine.
According to education authorities, teacher and pupil absenteeism is common during the cocoa harvesting seasons in March, April, July and October to December. During the season, school going children are employed to work in cocoa plantations, while some teachers who are cocoa farmers are looking for market.
The schools; Nyahuka and Bulindi Special Needs Schools were closed last year due to poor funding of a programme through which learners with special needs could access quality education services equitably.