As the primary leaving examinations draw to a close, all is not well at various schools in Kaliro district following the increasing school dropout rates in the district due to failure to manage menstrual hygiene challenges. District data shows that 87% of girls are failing to finish their studies. Statistics from last year’s examination finals show that of the 170 pupils who missed exams, 108 of these were girls.
InDirect Infants School in Gadumire sub county Kaliro district, the girls mostlythose in puberty are often isolated in small groups away from the boys, buthappy to keep to themselves. During my interactions, they struggle to last along smile. Only laugh faintly To some of them, puberty stage has become a night mare. The menstrual periods are individually unmanageable, yet shameful at school. Soiling their uniforms with blood stains leaves the boys in buckets of laughter.
The red days have bred untold stigma at school, and unbearable to sustain school practice, many have chosen to abscond from school. Some brave are turn, but the faint hearted go for good. With the poverty levels biting deep,many of these don’t have essentials to use during this time.
The school director of direct infant’s primary school Patrick Daire says the situation is beyond what the institution can contain. Even the senior woman teacher cannot salvage it either. From the start of this term, the school has lost four pupils after they stained their clothes while in class and failed to return to school due to the shame.
The repercussion of these dropout rates is also felt at the district level. Kamaga Edward, the district inspector of schools in Kaliro says, even the number of female teachers enrolled in the education profession is worrying. Out of the 1000 teachers in the district only 354 are women.
Kamaga notes that after these girls drop out of school, Marriage proposals flood in,in less than 3 months, these young girls have become wives.
Hope Nakalema is a senior woman teacher at Mpambwa orphans care, another school in Gadumire Sub County; she is overwhelmed by the numbers that come for her rescue. All she can do is allow girls in their periods to go home and return after. The few girls, who maneuver through the situation,have only been helped by partnering NGO’s and donors. The ministry of education and sports, ministry of health is set to partner with service providers to avail reusable pads to these children.
By Thembo Joshua KM THETA Team