ADJUMANI. Several pupils from schools in Adjumani District have abandoned classes to work in refugee camps.This was discovered by political leaders at a recent visit to the camps. The leaders learnt that the pupils dress smartly while heading to school from home, but branch off to the camps. During lunch time, they do not return home, making it difficult for the parents and teachers to trace them.
The most affected sub-counties are Pakelle, Dzaipi, Arinyapi and Pachara. The leaders have now agreed to arrest all children of school-going age who have resorted to providing cheap labour in refugee camps.The boys do bush clearing, ferrying poles to construction sites, build temporary shelter and brick-laying, while girls fetch water. A P5 pupil, who we cannot name since she is a minor, said she makes Shs5,000 in a day and the money ends up with her parents.
“It was not my intention to do work,” the pupil said, adding that the money earned was to be used for buying school uniform, but her father took it.The district education officer, Mr Mark Ambayo, said there was need to formulate an ordinance that would compel parents and pupils to become responsible. “We may not use the police to carry out the arrests, but involve parents so that they know the responsibility of having their children study,” he said.Mr John Sabuni, a councillor in Arinyapi Sub-county, said they will liaise with the education department, police and the sub-county leadership while carrying out the operation.
unishmentHe said parents of the arrested children will be subjected to reasonable punishment using relevant children rights, including possible prosecution in the courts because children have a right to education.
Education in government-aided primary schools is a free around the country, though each school charges its own additional costs. And the children, ironically, are engaged in business in order to pay these additional school fees such as Parent Teachers Association fees and to buy school materials.
The International Labour Organisation defines child labour as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to their physical and mental development. This includes work that interferes with their schooling.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor