The reopening of schools after a seven months COVID break has come with a lot anxiety for parents.
The voices coming out of rural areas and indeed urban poor settings, is that parents were ill-prepared to send children back to school so soon.
This is especially after some people in government, including President Museveni had hinted that the government had favoured declaring 2020 as a dead year academically.
To most people’s shock, a return to school was announced and parents were given just a month to prepare.
Considering that most parents depend on farming and small scale informal businesses, that are still trying to get back on their feet, the sudden announcement took many by surprise.
Many parents are now struggling to find fees, let alone the UNEB registration charges so their children can finish school.
Considering the dire economic situation in the country, it is our view that the government, working with other stakeholders such as religious institutions, non-government institutions such as the United nations come together to raise funds to meet the examination registration requirements of children in upcountry districts.
We strongly believe that hundreds of thousands of children preparing to sit for UNEB exams, are likely to fail to cross this barrier because of economic hardships. This will deal a huge psychological blow to so many children and hamper their progress in life.
The situation has been made worse by the fact that schools are not willing to take half of the tuition.
Perhaps because they fear to be labeled poor or failures, many parents are dying silently, reaching out to relatives for assistance. In more desperate situations parents are selling family assets like land or selling premature produce to obtain fees.
The outcomes of these desperate measures will manifest in deeper poverty that will trap communities in endless destitution for decades to come.
It will be disastrous for the country to realise at examination time, that many of the candidates have failed to return to sit their exams.
Already, a good number of the girls had gotten pregnant or married off as parents could not afford to keep them at home.
Research has already shown that it is much cheaper to keep girls in school as it helps to postpone their age of first sex and therefore delays their motherhood.
Everyone needs to do something now to keep the girls in school, to prevent many problems that will arise from situations like teenage pregnancies.