Over 15 legislators from the 10th parliament have completed a one and a half days orientation workshop on status of children in Uganda.

The workshop co-organized by EPRC and UNICEF Uganda was under the theme “Making Children More Visible at Parliamentary Level” and it attracted parliamentarians from the standing and sessional committees on: budget, health, education, Gender, and members of the Parliamentary Forum for Children. Also in attendance were technical staff of parliament, namely clerks and researchers attached to the listed committees.

Presenting the different rights for Children, Jaya Murthy, the Chief of Communications Unicef, told the legislators that health, education, participation and protection are the four fundamental rights for children. Murthy pointed out that for Uganda to realize its Vision 2040, investing in children must be prioritized. “Wealth creation comes when children are considered, if not the future of Uganda is at stake,” Murthy observed.

Murthy’s presentation showed that child mortality stands at 90 deaths per 1000 live births. He further explained that about 327 children die every day due to malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea. Murthy pointed out that a significant number of children in the rural areas have no access to safe water and spend about 30 minutes to travel to a water source, yet hand washing prevents pneumonia and diarrhea by 34 percent.

In relation to education, the statistics presented showed that that 33 percent of children who enroll for primary education drop out before completing, and only 40 percent of the children are literate at the end of primary schooling. The quality of teachers was indicated to be wanting, with a considerable number of unqualified teachers in Maths and English, and others in schools but not teaching.

Hon. Amos Lugoloobi, Chairperson of the Budget Committee decried the rate of teacher attendance, saying it could impede the realization of the 2020 middle-income status by Uganda. He said that the problems in the lower education segment worsened when UPE was introduced and parents took a back seat.

In addition to good monitoring, Hon. Lugoloobi advised legislators to draft laws that make it very easy to fire teachers in public schools since District Education Ordinances are never adhered to. Alternatively, hiring teachers on contract basis other than on pension terms would help tame non-performing teachers.

Appalled by the poor status of children, the members of parliament pledged to lobby the Speaker of Parliament to arrange for a special plenary sitting where Unicef and EPRC can share the numerous figures and statistics pertaining to children’s rights in Uganda.

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