That would have been me! – Doreen narrates the plight of uneducated girlchild

That would have been me! The plight of the uneducated girl child in Uganda 

Traffic jams and busy roads are some of the obvious things that happen in Kampala but they are even more intense on Monday evenings. On this specific day, I took my usual route through the northern bypass to go home after a long day at an office where I am a junior employee. Clinging to my backpack which contained my laptop and notebooks on the taxi back seat, my eyes landed on a lady who looked to be in her early twenties in the same public transport vehicle.

There was something about her that got my attention and made me think deeply as we cruised through the Kalelwe Busega stretch on the Northern Bypass. She had an approximately 3-year-old toddler who consistently called her mama to bring back her attention to him as she constantly made disturbing phone calls, she was heavily pregnant, looking pale amidst grappling with luggage which seemed like she was changing location.

It took me back to 2017 when I did my internship with an organization in Rural Bushenyi and the women asked me why I was 20 years and not married yet, I boldly told them I was still in school to get a degree and develop my career before I could embark on that life long journey and commitment. 

They sarcastically told me “nozakugwa ahameheega” which is a Runyankole phrase meaning I would fail to get a husband and stay in my father’s compound. I thought to myself why this approximate age mate of mine was also not taking time to find herself, figure out her purpose in this world and start a career in whichever craft would take her fast forward in life before bringing children into the picture. 

There is a common phrase that says that everyone has got their path in life which I agree with but to a certain extent disagree because I believe we all have the ability to shape our paths amidst life challenges.

A renowned Kenyan  Psychologist and Life coach  Benjamin Zulu that I follow religiously on social media don’t go a day without emphasizing the need for pre-25s to work on self-discovery and personal development before they can go into marriage or having babies. 

A close look at a typical girl child in rural Uganda whose only access to education stops in primary school at a local UPE school in a neighbourhood with the high possibility of dropping out before sitting for PLE, or lack of school fees to progress to senior secondary schools puts her at risk of teenage pregnancy and child marriage

The figures in Uganda are still high with 25% as noted in UDHS 2016 and this has worsened with the government-enforced lockdown and closure of schools to curb down the spread of the Coronavirus. These girls are limited to achieving their dreams and careers as they are eventually confined in homes taking care of their families and raising children s they do basic peasant work. What is being done for these individuals who are not lucky enough to get exposed to higher education to give them a ray of light to make their career paths, establish businesses or bring to life an innovation idea?

How can we help them because an educated woman is most probably going to have educated children who will, in turn, emulate her hence better outcomes for the country in terms of productive and innovative population? I challenge you to hold the newly elected leaders, especially in the rural constituencies to come to the rescue of the many young girls and boys in the rural areas whose dreams are being cut short due to failure to access quality education lest we are headed for a generation of poverty and frustration

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Frank Byaruhanga is a human rights activist with years of experience in community dialogues, digital communication, advocacy and digital campaigns. He specializes in Media Relation Work, Management and Training with sufficient knowledge in Governance, Accountability, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, Youth-led research, Content developer, Creative Activism, Social Media Management and documentary photography.

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