Saved from School Absenteeism among the Fishing Communities in Kasese

Joele Muhindo is a 13 year old boy in primary seven and a resident of Kayanzi landing site, a fishing community in Nyakiyumbu Sub County, Kasese District-Uganda. While in primary six, a Child Rights club was established and introduced in his school by Karambi Action for Life Improvement (KALI) thanks to IDF funding. The school dropout rates were high and enrollment very low. “Before the Child Rights Program was introduced in 2014, we only had 137 pupils enrolled, today we boast of an enrollment of 334 pupils”. Said Mr. Ralence Muhindo the Head Teacher Kayanzi Primary school. The clubs and programs initiated have gone a long way in helping young people not only know their rights but also gain self-esteem and confidence but above all appreciate the value of education.

Joel is one of the many young stars who suffered the consequences of school absenteeism due to engaging in out of school activities during school hours often leading to high dropout rates. Luckily for him a Child Rights Club was started in his school to reach out to the children in the remote fishing village. The constant capacity building and awareness meetings with the club at his school has got him encouraged to love being in school more. Joel has a responsibility of mobilizing for meetings at his school. “…I was obliged to attend school in order not to miss any assignment or communication given by KALI.”  Says Joel. He in the long run started feeling more responsible and enjoying education.

Due to the many opportunities at the fishing site, Joel would be lured to get an extra earning. He used to engage in activities like spreading the nets for the fishermen after fishing and mining cowrie shells for sale to get money to cater for his sickly mother. After being sensitized in the child rights clubs, he now goes to the landing site in the evening after school to get some money to support him and his mother. He no longer works during school hours. He is now focusing on his career and hoping to become a Lawyer in future. He has sat for PLE exams and hoping to join secondary school.

He appeals to government to establish a secondary school at the landing site so that children there can easily access secondary education, as he is scared of how he will leave his sick mother to join secondary school far away from home.