The director of operations and registrations at the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) said at a press conference recently that NIRA will be registering only those students whose parents or guardians have already registered with NIRA and also posses the National Identification Numbers (NINs).
The State Minister for Primary Education, Daniel Nokrach Odongo backed this move.
Whereas, the initiative to register children is a good one, the above pre-condition is unfounded, not well-thought through and a latent violation of the rights of children.
Many parents and guardians in Uganda have not registered, and therefore, do not have the required NINs, either due to sheer negligence or because they actually have not been fully-sensitized about the importance of having a national identification document. Thus, their children will miss out because of their parents’ or guardians’ irresponsibility.
Also, it is sad that only those students with a NIN will be allowed to sit for UNEB. It means that a sizeable number of children will miss their education because of a simple procedural oversight! What of the children who have dropped out of school -how will they be registered?
The burden that comes with their parents’ or guardians’ mistakes should not be passed on to children. We are risking having stateless and illiterate people in a world that is moving so fast to realize the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Even the Bible in Deutronomy 24:16, puts it clear that; ‘Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin’.
The Constitution o and the Children Act entitle these children to a right to citizenship. The Education Act of 2008 also entitles all children in Uganda irrespective of heir age, colour, race, ethnicity or any other background a right to education! If we say we are a God-fearing country and a democratic government, we should not go against these tenets. Uganda is also a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
There should be a lot of flexibility during the exercise. If a parent or guardian presents documents to prove their relationship with the child and also prove the child’s birth date, that should suffice. Such documents can be found in baptism cards, child health cards or birth notification cards from their sub-counties.
Some parents have driving permits and passports-which should already be in the identification system! Others have TIN numbers and NSSF cards-which posses all their bio-data! And above all, some villages still issue residence identity cards! All these documents are useful for registering these children. Registration should also cover children who are out of school.
The writer is a District LC-V Councilor representing Budadiri Town Council in Sironko District