The extremely high school drop-out rate in Bundibugyo district is a source of concern for organizations involved in education development in Uganda.
Valter Tinderbolt, the country director of Save the Children in Uganda, told a meeting of parents at Kasitu sub-county in Bundibugyo that until issues affecting school attendance are solved, the assistance government and the donor community is extending to the district will be wasted. He said urgent action needs to be taken to save the situation.
Tinderbolt's statements were made shortly after the inauguration of Busendwa Primary School in Kasitu, which was built with the assistance of Save the Children in Uganda. It is located in one of the most remote areas of Bundibugyo, high up in the Rwenzori Mountain region and is intended to target families that previously had no access to education.
Speaking during the function, the deputy district education officer in Bundibugyo, Peter Bamwitirebye, said the annual school enrolment in the district is very low. He said that a majority of those who enroll drop out of school before they reach Primary Seven.
Bamwitirebye blamed the high school drop out on early marriages. He said some children as young as 14-years-old were forced to get married because their parents stood to receive as much as 500,000 shillings in bride price for them.
According to the education officer, this problem is cyclical, manifesting itself in the acute number of female teachers and other professional women from Bundibugyo.
The officer in charge of children's rights at Save the Children in Uganda, Jackson Muhindo, said the problem stems from the fact that girls and women in Bundibugyo are considered to be mere sex objects. He said his office receives a minimum of seven child defilement cases from the district each week.
Bundibugyo has some of the highest school drop out rates in Uganda. Data from Save the Children indicates that the district has only a 27 percent literacy rate for females, compared to 54 percent for males. 56 percent of all school-age girls in Bundibugyo are out of school.
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