Bugabo primary school in Kapeeke Sub County in Nakaseke district is struggling with a high pupil dropout rate.
Bugabo primary school is under the Universal Primary Education-UPE program and serves children from ten villages. They include among others Bugabo, Bamunguza, Namasengere, Ssebuguzi, Kismula and Kisimula parish among others.
Alex Ujima, the head teacher Bugabo primary school says that in 2012 they had more than 340 pupils in various classes but 290 pupils have since dropped out of school.
Our reporter found only 49 pupils at school when he went there on Monday this week. Ujima explains that most of the pupils have abandoned school citing poor results and frustration by their parents.
He says most of the pupils have resorted to selling bananas and fishing, leaving the classes almost empty. He says the most affected is the primary one class which had 73 pupils at start of this year but now boasts of only 14 pupils, P2 has seven out of 46, P3 has eight from 51 and Primary Five with five pupils up from 62.
Ujima explains that they have tried to sweet talk parents to encourage their children to stay in school in vain. He says that a large number of his former pupils pass by the school each day to go fishing at River Mayanja. Ujima says that although the school was established in 1986, only two of its former pupils have become grade 3 teachers, which has created a negative attitude amongst the community towards education.
Some of the former pupils say that they resorted to fishing after their parents failed to provide them with basic school requirements such as books, pens, pencils, uniform and lunch. One of the former pupils identified as Mukasa said even if he studies hard, jobs are too scarce adding that, it is better he starts tapping money from fishing, which is profitable and easy to do.
He claimed that some of his friends who didn’t go through school are riding motorcycles, cars and own buildings in towns as result of fishing. Mukasa argues that those who graduated in teaching earn peanuts and miserable lives, which discouraged him from education.
Elizabeth Dizaro, a parent to David Tabu who dropped out of P.7 this year says that she did what she could but the boy refused to study saying his future in education was uncertain because his family can’t afford sponsoring him from senior four to university so as to enable him compete fairly in the job market.
Dizaro says that her son is currently doing petty jobs to earn living but have hope he will return to school before the end of this year. Justine Musoke, a Research Associate with UWEZO in Nakaseke says that Bugabo School is a tip of the turmoil in the Education Sector in the district. She says preliminary findings of an assessment conducted by UWEZO show that even the majority of pupils of attend school dodge afternoon classes, while others study on empty stomachs.
Steven Batanudde, the Nakaseke District Education Officer and LC 5 Chairperson Ignatius Koomu declined to comment saying they needed more time. Moses Ssenfuma, the LC 3 Chairperson of Kapeeka sub county said he was not aware of the high dropout rates but promised to follow up the matter.