- According to statistics from Nebbi hospital, at least 55 girls below the age of 18 years delivered at the facility within the first two months of 2019
- About 50 girls of the same age went to the facility for the regular ante-natal visits, with child activists questioning the whereabouts of the men who inflict such pain to the young girls
By Ronald Orachwun
Nebbi- Authorities in Nebbi district have ventured into sports activities to help end the rising levels of teenage pregnancies and child marriages in the district.
The district sports officer Oribi Bruno Oponjuru says the district is currently organizing the “Cross Country marathon” which will climax on Labour day on May 1 2019 to help raise awareness and champion the fight against teenage pregnancies and child mothers.
“This is a period of sports. Whereas many of us in school and outside school are under utilising the power of sports, it is a tool which should be utilised to empower the community and compel development,” he told journalists in his office this afternoon.
This year’s 8km Cross country marathon is being organized under the theme, “Ending early pregnancy and child mothers, a responsibility of all of us” and targets young school age children who actively got engaged in early and risky sexual activities with an aim of creating awareness about the risks involved in early sex.
According to Oponjuru, the Nebbi district cross country marathon is an annual event which brings together stakeholders to brainstorm on solutions affecting the young generation, especially young children who get deviated from their normal school path through sexually related issues.
“We have been doing this for the past six years as we strive to address challenges affecting our young children. We will not get tired and we want to warn mature men who are disorganising our young girls with funny material things making them fall prey to sexual advances. We shall catch up with you.”
Okello Geoffrey Anecho, the district Vice LC5 chairman says the district is positively embracing sports to boost the fight against things that retard development in the district as sports has the capacity of uniting all stakeholders to compel development in the district.
Innocent Openjtho, the Nebbi district education officer says dropout rate and teenage pregnancies are among the young girls in the district are still a big challenge.
Runners finishing to the line during a Marathon in Arua. Photos by Felix
He explains that majority of the victims of school dropout and teenage pregnancies are young girls between the ages of 11 to 17 years and whose parents choose to settle defilement cases out of court because of the monetary benefit and for fear of taking a long process of seeking legal redress.
According to statistics from Nebbi hospital, at least 55 girls below the age of 18 years delivered at the facility within the first two months of 2019 and 50 girls of the same age went to the facility for the regular ante-natal visits, with child activists questioning the whereabouts of the men who inflict such pain to the young girls.
Openjtho attributes the rise in the two vices to poverty and negligence among parents who fail to provide scholastic materials for their children, making them to look for them from men who are able to provide for them.
“Some of our parents are so poor that they don’t care how their children get their money. Many of our children are also dropping out of school due to poverty related issues and some parents especially those in rural areas are not bothered about their children’s education.”
Estimates from the Nebbi district Inspectorate of schools shows that about 26,454 primary school age going children dropped out of school in 2018 due to financial related issues.
James Gwoktho, the Nebbi district inspector of schools says some parents in the district are incapacitated to provide decent education for their children due to financial issues, making them to drop out of school.
Another data, the November 2018 Twaweza East Africa’s Sauti za Wananchi report also shows evidence of effects of poverty on children’s education in the country.
The report shows that half of all households in Uganda (50 per cent) have experienced a situation where a household member had to drop out of school for financial reasons.
This number is higher in poorer households (60 per cent) as compared to their wealthier households (38 per cent).
A 2015 EMIS report by Ministry of Education and Sports also sounds an alarm bell about the completion rate among school going children in Nebbi district.
The report which was availed to stakeholders in the district recently, states that 51 per cent of children who enroll to primary school at the age of six years are able to complete primary seven.
Ronald Kabunga, the Gender Technical officer at the Ministry of Education and sports, who availed the data, attributes the low completion rate in the district to parental negligence.
“The child is not being treated well at home by parents including failure to provide scholastic materials for them and the child ends up dropping out of school,” he said.
Matilda Natukunda, a legal officer at the Gender Based Violence Shelter at Action Aid Nebbi expressed concern over the two vices and urged the district to come up with stronger measures to combat them.