The high rates of absenteeism amongst teachers and pupils in Bundibugyo have been attributed to Cocoa production. Bundibugyo is the largest producer of cocoa in Uganda, with 80% of the population engaged in cocoa growing. The cocoa harvesting seasons in Bundibugyo are in March, April, July and October to December. During this season, school children are employed to work in cocoa plantations, while some teachers who are cocoa farmers are looking for market for their cocoa. The most affected schools are in Bwamba County, where cocoa is a source of income for many families. When Uganda Radio Network visited Harugale Primary School in Bundibugyo town, there were no pupils in the classes, while in some classes the pupils were on their own without teachers. Sifina Kwaghelya, the head teacher of Harugale Primary School says that since the beginning of this month, few pupils have attended school. She says that in a class like P.5 where there are supposed to be 300 pupils, only 120 attend class. Kwaghelya also says that pupils are not taught because most of the teachers in her school are cocoa farmers. She says that some pupils missed the mid term examinations because the teachers did not prepare the exams. Lawrence Bakahuwa, the District Inspector of Schools Bundibugyo says that some parents in the district have a negative attitude towards education. He says that some parents encourage their children to work in cocoa plantations. Bakahuwa says that absenteeism of pupils and teachers has contributed to the poor performance of schools in the district. //Cue in: "we have a problem..." Cue out: "...bad situation in Bundibugyo."// Manga Nkwabusa, the acting District Education Officer Bundibugyo says that ten teachers have been suspended for absenteeism. Nkwabusa also says that the Bundibugyo district council will soon pass a bi law to punish parents whose children are found working in cocoa plantations during school days.
Updated: 28 Jun, 17:0517:05
About the author
A Journalism graduate, Kajubu started out as a freelancer for The New Vision newspaper in 2004 based in Fort Portal, Kabarole.
Kajubu is interested in public policy, politics, health, crime and the environment. He is a trainer with Farm Radio International (FRI) and chairperson of the Tooro Median Practitioners Association (TOMPA).