Girls' Absenteeism High Over Lack of Toilets

In some schools, the girls are forced to walk long distances to access sanitary facilities. They are uncomfortable sharing latrines with the boys and teachers

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The lack of adequate sanitation facilities is forcing girls in Ntoroko district out of school.


When girls enter puberty they are often forced to miss classes or even drop out of school, because there are no separate toilets for them. This has led to high cases of absenteeism among the girls and affected their performance in examinations.


In some of the schools visited by Uganda Radio Network (URN) in Ntoroko, there is one toilet shared by boys, girls and the teachers. Some of the toilets also don’t have doors.


 At Nyaika secondary school in Karugutu town council, the school has a population of 450 students but has only one toilet shared by girls and the boys.


Herbert Bagonza, the headmaster says that last term, more than fifty girls would miss classes in a week, because of lack of neat and separate toilets. Bagonza also says that some of the girls missed the end year examinations.


Bagonza says that while as boys can answer the call of nature in the bush or behind the school compound, the girls can't. He says that the girls feel embarrassed to use the school’s pit latrine because it has no privacy, as most of the latrines have no doors.


According to Bagonza, the girls have no option, but use the toilets of Karugutu Pentecostal Church, which is 300 meters from the school. He also says that the parents refuse to contribute money for construction of latrines because they think it's the responsibility of the government.


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Rashida Katusabe, a senior two student, says that she feels uncomfortable when queuing up with the boys to use the toilets. She and her friends are forced to use toilets outside the school.


Scovia Mbabazi, the headmistress of Makondo Secondary School , Karugutu Sub County says that because of lack of separate toilet facilities, girls are often forced to leave school premises looking for toilets, and they sometimes use the bush or other hideouts, which poses risks because they could be sexually assaulted.


According to Mbabazi, absenteeism among the girls is high especially when they approach their menstruation cycles. She says that last year more than 100 girls missed classes.


Mbabazi says that absenteeism has affected the performance of the girls in examinations as they often miss lessons when they stay away from school.


She further states that the lack of toilets and running water at the school means that girls often do not have anywhere to change or dispose of sanitary pads.


Henry Karamagi, the acting district education officer Ntoroko, says that the school receives inadequate funds under the school facilitation grant.  He says some of the money is used to purchase of desks and construct classrooms.