UGANDA, EAST AFRICA – As Uganda celebrated the Day of the African Child last month, in Luwero District, Central Uganda, participants hoped to ascertain whether or not our children have successfully exercised their decision-making rights at home.
A national guide promoting the participation of children, launched by Dr. Beatrice Wabudeya emphasizes the need for all adults to allow children to play a worthwhile role in the decision-making processes.
The government of Uganda, further emphasized Madam Syda Bumba, Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, must ensure a national awareness of children’s rights. The government is making strides in this direction, most especially in the arena of armed conflicts, for which a protocol and guide regarding the Convention on the Rights of Children have been designed to facilitate skills and communication, in sign language, for injured and physically disabled children in refugee camps.
Asked why her Ministry appears to be doing little to address rising food prices, Madam Bumba observed that this increase signals a price rise at the global level, and that she is urging the government to consider opting for Information, Communication and Technology to address the problem in rural areas. ICT will work with people in rural areas to develop their knowledge and business skills, utilizing technology, business models, partners, and relationships to address rural connectivity problems so as to enable the poor and marginalized to benefit from socioeconomic development.
“ICT has transformative powers to change societies,” she said. “It can bring governments and citizens closer, especially if a country has a large geographical zone with good soil textures,” as does Uganda.
Government is to set up safety guidelines to curb the increasing fires in schools. At a recent education conference in Kampala, speaking about “Thematic Curriculum in UPE and USE for Quality Education,” Mr. Peter Lokeris, the Minister of State for Primary Schools, observed that parents and teachers are uneasy about the constant threat of fires of suspicious origins that continue to gut our schools.
Three in the last three weeks have raised the number of incidents to 20, in the last six months; police sources say there were eight school fires in all of 2007.
The burned schools are some of the nation’s most prominent, run in tandem by the government and the church of Uganda, including Budo Junior School, in Wakiso District, where 20 pupils perished when a fire gutted a girls' dormitory on 14 April. Police have not yet released a statement regarding the cause of that fire; other fires have occurred at the Sunset Junior School in Kampala, Namalere Primary School-Wakiso District and Buziga Islamic Theological Institute in Kampala District.
Boarding schools in Uganda are poorly organized, potentially dangerous and very congested; it is common to find as many as 30 children stacked in triple-deck beds in a dormitory the size of a 40 foot container, the metal suitcases that contain their belongings beside them. The child on the bop bunk sleeps touching the iron ceiling. Loose and naked electric wires hang from wooden crossbars on the ceiling, alongside their towels and clothes – an obvious fire hazard, particularly when they use matches and candles, when power fails.
Students demonstrate against teachers who fail to address their grievances – regarding the poor diet, most frequently.