A Tapestry of Broken Dreams As Children Drop Out Of School into Marriage
“Am Gerstamy Dralukpe from Adjumani. I am an orphan, 21 yrs. I sat for my Primary Leaving Examinations in 2007 and got aggregate 10, division 1 but I did not join a secondary school because l lack school fees. Now I am married. Please help,” reads a recent message to News-Hapa.
It is a common joke in school, especially when the going gets tough, that it would be better to drop out and attend ‘Bufumbo College’. Reports reaching News Hapa indicate that this has become much more than a joke for a number of children, especially orphans.
Geoffrey Angupale from Yumbe district says, “In our community, there are no programs of supporting orphans to get free education in secondary schools and it is hard for them to join secondary schools.” A separate report from Bwambale Venasio of Kasese shows that orphans in his district face that very problem too. At a parents’ day event he attended at Buhanga Nursery school, while the school administrator advised the parents present to put their children through school, he could only take pity on orphans, observing that they often fail to pay their school dues. Relatedly, he exclaimed about the high rate of school drop-out and early marriages. “This is a very big problem in this area,” Bwambale says.
Of course, there are a lot more causes of school drop-outs than losing one’s parents. A citizen view from Maracha mentions just one of the many other causes. “Abortion rate is now very high in the West Nile region hence an increase in school drop-outs.”
Predictably, it is a life of frustration and strife that awaits young people that drop-out of school. “Most of the educated school drop outs in Maracha district have resorted to drug abuse rather than looking for employment opportunities,” reports another concerned citizen.