By Doreen Bazio.

30% of students who enroll for secondary school education in Uganda drop out before completing their education. In the northern part, early marriages and teenage pregnancy which is one of the likely reasons for dropping out stands at above 50% compared to the national average of 25%. In Adjumani, Teenage Pregnancy rate in Arinyapi Sub County stands at 14.1%.

Arinyapi Seed Secondary School is a perfect example of ‘grass to grace’. The school is lucky to benefit from both Uganda Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfers (UGiFT) phase II program that is constructing classrooms and office space and Development Response to Displacement Impact Project (DRDIP) which has already constructed dormitory that is a blessing. Unlike, other 150 UGiFT schools across the country, the school is the only one with a dormitory.

According to Drici Festo Lagu, the Head Teacher, at the school, early marriages have now reduced because most students especially girls are no longer day scholars. He also observes that construction of the dormitory will increase the enrollment of 104 to at least 220 due to the 120 beds available. The school currently has 08 S.4 girls in the boarding section with the remaining number booked for 2024 academic year.

“Most of our students come from far places. As soon as the dormitory was constructed, many have expressed interest to join the school in the boarding section. Early marriage won’t be eliminated completely but at least it will be reduced. The intervention has really addressed the crucial needs of the school because it is deep in the village” Drici discloses.

Drici also envisions that with most of the students at the school, there will be adequate time for study, reading and extra lessons at night. The DRDIP intervention has also reduced absenteeism of students under the disguise of fetching water.

Indeed, as Uzaru Nancy, S.3, notes, with a dormitory, there are more mechanisms in place to control absenteeism of students.

“We used to have a high rate of school dropout of girls in Senior four but it has at least now reduced. When you stay here, there is a lot of time for you to even revise your books.” Nancy observes.

Atiku Justine, S.2, notes that staying at the school gives students an opportunity to concentrate in school without distraction of domestic issues or peer pressure for social gatherings.

“For us boys, when we stay at home, we don’t have time to read which affects our performance. When I used to stay at home, I would go out for disco.” Justine explains.

However, the school still requires fencing and teachers accommodation which is not provided for in the UGiFT program and DRDIP project.

Meanwhile, while releasing the results for Uganda Certificate of Education for 2022, the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Mrs. Janet Kataaha Museveni, ordered for a special audit into the cause of school drops at all education levels in the country.