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“When we devote attention and resources to the education, health and well-being of adolescent girls, they will become an even greater force for positive change in society that will have an impact for generations to come,” said Ban.
He has called upon the world to pledge its support to adolescent girls and help them realize their potential and contribute to the shared future.
UN estimates that 16 million teenage girls who give birth each year never had the opportunity to plan their pregnancy which could lead to complications from childbirth that can cause grave disabilities, such as obstetric fistula, and are the leading cause of death for these vulnerable young women.
“We must get girls into primary school and enable them to receive a good education.”
A recent report by UN reveals that many children face barriers to education. These threats can be against children, teachers, education personnel and carried out for political, religious or criminal reasons.
In an exclusive interview with Mr. Marlon Agaba, the Programme Officer – Information and Policy Advocacy ANPPCAN-Uganda Chapter, he said that the quality of education in Uganda is poor.
“The education sector faces a lot of challenges ranging from poor infrastructure, under staffing, lack of teaching and learning materials, and teacher absenteeism,” he said.
Youth delegates from around the globe gathered on Friday in a meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York City to fight for a quality education for all children, even those living in areas of war and conflict.
It was partly to celebrate the birthday of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani school girl and education activist whose only ‘crime’ was a desire to learn when she was shot and gravely wounded by armed men on her way back from school.
Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani school girl and education activist was last year shot and gravely wounded by armed men on her way back from school
In his remarks at the conference, Mr. Ban reiterated the UN’s commitment to give access to quality education to every girl and boy through its Global Education First Initiative which has three priorities: to put every child in school, improve the quality of learning, and foster global citizenship.
“No child should have to die for going to school. Nowhere should teachers fear to teach or children fear to learn. Together, we can change the picture,” he said.
This call to action was delivered just as the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO) Education for All Global Monitoring Report, launched a new policy paper spotlighting that globally, the number of children out of school has fallen from 60 million in 2008 to 57 million in 2011.
However, 28 million children out of school live in the world’s conflict zones, and more than half of those are women and girls.
Mr Agaba noted that the majority of the children who drop out of school in Uganda are girls.
“This is due to a multiplicity of factors like, poor cultural attitudes against girls, sexual violence in schools, lack of sanitary towels hence ridicule, patriarchal nature of Uganda, teacher absenteeism, high teacher to student ratio (1:80) and teenage pregnancies,” he said.
He said Uganda has the highest school drop-out rate in East Africa; “Out of the 890,977 pupils who enrolled for P.1 in 2003, on 444,109 sat PLE in 2009,” he added.
Mr. Reagan Rwambambiri holding a placard at a recent gathering in Isingiro district wher he was addressing about children’s rights
Mr Agaba noted that ANPPCAN (African Network for Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect) usually receives general cases of neglect against girls, education inclusive.
“In 2012, we received 478 cases of neglect against girls in the 10 districts we operate. In 2013, we have already registered 215 cases of neglect against girls. Of all the 3,255 cases reported to ANPPCAN in 2012; 2,039 are committed on girls,” he said.
This clearly shows that girls are not given priority in many communities and families in Uganda. It should be noted that culture and tradition has in several instances been used to favor boys over girls while grooming girls to accept subjugation and inferiority with apathy.
“The well-known patriarchal system in Uganda has long endured the passage of time cutting across geographical boundaries as well as religious and class differences. This best explains the discrepancies in access to education between boys and girls,” said Agaba as some of the reasons why girls are denied access to education.
Chimpreports interviewed more people to inquire their perception on educating a girl child.
According to Mr. Reagan Rwabambari, Isingiro District coordinator with Integrated Development Alliance for Health, it is important to education girls because it’s a way of economically empowering women which helps to reduce poverty among households.
“Further more educating girls reduces dependence on men which has always caused domestic violence,” said Mr. Rwabambari.
“I strongly support Girl child education because it is the only way we can achieve gender balance,” says Ms Precious Kemigisha.
She noted that for the nation to have equal rights there must be equal responsibility financially, spiritually and in all aspects. “Girl child education empowers ladies to have a say in everything.”
Mr. Agaba emphasised that the proportion of school drop-out children in Uganda is just increasing day by day and the education system in Uganda has to be overhauled.
Mr. Reagan Rwambambiri holding a placard at a recent gathering in Isingiro district where he was addressing on the rights of children
He recommended the need for investment in education infrastructure, reduction of teacher-pupil ratio, teacher and student absenteeism, reproductive health education to girls and boys, sensitization of rigid parents, improvement in teachers welfare and fighting the high level of sexual violence in schools if the country wants to see a change in its education system.