12 February 2012

Uganda: Karamoja Pupils Starving

Barely three weeks into the term, conditions at Moroto Municipal Council primary school in Moroto district are alarming - pupils and their teachers have no food.

Speaking with The Observer last week, the head teacher, Rose Abalu Achen, lamented that while other schools are fully immersed in the academic year, she is contemplating sending her pupils back home for lack of food, scholastic materials and other necessities.

"We are in a terrible condition; the children have not tasted anything beside porridge since they came. Hungry teachers cannot teach hungry children; we may need to close the school", Achen said.

Achen explained that although the school is majorly funded by the World Food Programme (WFP), it has not received any handouts from the organization since last year. The local authorities have also failed to find a solution.

"They (WFP) told us that there is no food in their coffers and that we will have to wait until they have some to allocate to us", Achen said.

The lack of food has since driven some pupils out of school into the bushes to hunt for wild geese, rats and other edibles. Others shun school in preference for stone quarrying and gold mining.

"Last year, we had a total of 1,135 pupils but the number has since reduced to 964; most students drop out due to early marriages, long distances, poverty and hunger", she said.

Moroto municipal council is one of the oldest day and boarding primary schools in Karamoja. Despite being under the UPE programme, the school has maintained a fairly good academic record compared to other schools in the area. In last year's PLE, 62 of their pupils passed in second grade, a record never registered in the sub-region.

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