Uganda: Yumbe, Obongi Districts Reintegrate Dropout Children Through Community-Based Strategies

The education departments of Yumbe and Obongi districts in the West Nile sub-region are making significant strides in the effort to reintegrate children who had dropped out of school.

Employing innovative community-based strategies, including a door-to-door approach, both districts, in collaboration with development partners, are enhancing resources and mechanisms to facilitate the successful reintegration of these dropouts into the education system.

Yumbe and Obongi districts have grappled with high school dropout rates, largely due to multifaceted barriers that hinder children from staying in school.

These challenges encompass issues such as lack of school feeding, insufficient scholastic materials, inadequate sanitary supplies for girls, teenage pregnancies, and entrenched cultural and religious practices that impede education.

According to Okuonzi David, Headteacher of Mijale Primary School in Yumbe, “This year and last year we had like 6 girls in P.5 that dropped out because of pregnancies, and we had two in P.6.”

Baseline surveys conducted in Yumbe district indicate that the highest enrollment levels are observed in lower classes, with dropouts starting around primary three.

Efforts to mitigate these challenges and boost the enrollment rates in both host and refugee communities have been initiated by district leaders in collaboration with a consortium of development partners.

Mawa Stephen Alatawa, Head of the Programme at Community Empowerment for Rural Development (CEFORD), stated,

“Here, we have livelihood support and school feeding program where pupils, especially those in upper classes, are supported with feeding and other interventions like backyard farming to ensure that pupils have food.”

The “Reaching and Enrolling Out of School Children” initiative, launched to promote education, is yielding tangible results as over 120 schools in Yumbe and Obongi districts are witnessing a notable increase in enrollment.

Okuonzi David, Headteacher of Mijale Primary School in Yumbe, reported, “We have so far registered 113 who have come back to school.”

Oleba Zubair, Headteacher of Kuru Primary School in Yumbe, echoed this sentiment, saying,

“Before this intervention started, we had an enrollment of 1223 pupils. As we talk now, our enrollment has increased by 100% to 2315 pupils.”

To accommodate the growing number of students, the districts have constructed new classroom blocks and standardized latrine facilities to address overcrowding and sanitation concerns.

Hannington Komakech, an education specialist, emphasized, “As we talk now, most of the schools with this initiative are full because quite a good number of pupils have come back to school, which is giving us more challenges to look for resources to put up structures to accommodate the numbers.”

Through these collaborative efforts, Yumbe and Obongi districts are gradually overcoming the obstacles that have historically led to school dropouts, rekindling hope for improved educational outcomes in the region


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