The number of Children dropping out at the border is on the increase as children are involved in cross border trade.
A bout of Cross border trade fever, has gripped Katuna border post and the children have been severely affected.
Rural poverty coupled with the seemingly easy ways to reap money by carrying goods across the border is proving an irresistible pull for young children in and around Kabale. Many have been lured away from the classrooms and into the footpaths to Katuna, along the Uganda and Rwanda border point.
Carrying merchandise on their heads, the children walk to and from Uganda border points, laughing, chatting and visibly happy about their day. Many others are employed as load carriers ferrying merchandise from one end to another.
John Arinaitwe, dropped out of primary four at Katuna primary school to join the border trade. He says that on a good day, he is able to raise between 5,000 and 7,000 shillings which he uses to purchase food for his family.
But as the children become bread winners for their adult families, the teachers are worried. Kabale district local government has no statistics of the children involved in that hazardous form of child labor.
Joseph Byamugisha, a teacher at Katuna Primary School, says school dropout rates are increasing at an alarming rate because of the thriving border trade. He says that some children report in the morning, and after the roll call disappear to the border.
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Deo Kaguliro, the Kabale District Education officer, says his department has notified police to arrest any children found involved in border trade.
Rev.David Twinamatsiko, of International Christian Concern for the underprivileged, says government, parents and the church have to find a remedy to cure the border trade fever that has taken grip of the children.
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Kwesiga Morrine, the Probation officer, says they plan to work with non government organizations to stop the cross border trade. She says traders makes dubious profits out the children who cant be arrested because are minors.
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The Bureau of international labor affairs says Uganda has some of the worst forms of child labor in the country including heavy domestic work; commercial sex and sexual slavery; involvement in military operations; smuggling of merchandise across borders; and the work of children living on the streets.
The International Labor Organisation says Children working as domestic servants frequently work long hours, are denied food, endure physical and sexual abuse, and are isolated from family and friends.
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cross border trade