Friday, 2 October 2009

Pupil absenteeism from schools

From time to time you've read my rantings about problems faced by schools due to irregular attendance from their pupils. The report below is from today's "New Times" and is a very honest and forthright example of the day to day problems schools face. This particular school is in the Eastern Province; it's the District where Tina and two of the new volunteers just arrived are working.

NGOMA- The headmaster of Nyange Secondary School in Ngoma District has expressed concern over the increasing number of dropouts at the school.

Aloys Muhawenimana told The New Times on Wednesday that parents take their children out of school to help them with domestic chores.

“Parents ask their children to get involved in domestic work during class hours. This worsens during the rice harvesting season, when rice ripens, children to go up other tasks and they end up leaving school for good,” Muhawenimana said.

“This is frustrating our efforts to uplift the standards of this good school. Even the bright students drop-out.”

The school is located a few meters away from Mugesera Lake, where fishing activities take place through out the year.

Teachers added that the students drop out of school to go fishing. “Fish sells like hot cakes and makes them earn money, so they can never be stopped,” the teachers said.

The Executive Secretary of Mugesera Sector, Arcade Muragijemungu, said that authorities have been battling the problem of school drop-outs even though it remains a big one.

“Parents say the children are the only manpower they have…owing to the importance of the rice fields, they have a point. But the issue is how we reconcile the necessity to keep children in school, and protecting the rice fields at the same time,” he said.

However, parents seem not to understand the importance of sending their children to school.

In an interview, one parent said he needed the children to help him produce enough food for the family.

“I have eight children; some of them have to help me to get the family food. They do this by fishing and protecting the rice field. Of course the young keep in school,” the middle aged man said.

Some parents attributed school drop-out to to poverty.

Nyange Secondary School has a student population of over 1700 students.

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