Uganda Woman MP: “Fathers, let girls be close to you.”

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Gulu Woman MP, Betty Aol Ocan chats with 12 year old Catherin Acen from her office in Gulu on Friday.

Gulu Uganda:An Education activist in Uganda’s parliament, Betty Aol Ocan has asked parents to be closer to their girl child for them to excel in education and avoid early marriages and school dropouts. Aol is the woman Member of Parliament for Gulu district in Northern Uganda.

She rewarded best performing pupils from Gulu district in the 2017 Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE), with mattresses and cash prizes from her officer along Ring Road, Pece Division in Gulu Municipality on Friday.

When a child passes PLE, they join high school.

Aol appreciated the father of 12 year old Catherine Acen, from Layibi Green Primary School who got aggregate 7 in last year’s PLE exams for mentoring his girl to love education.

Meanwhile, Acen attributes her good performance to her father, Wilfred Nyeko, who has been close to her, inspiring her to become a civil engineer in future.

“My Dad was very helpful in many ways when I was at school and he still supports me in many areas of my growth. I want to become a civil engineer like him when I finish school. He has taught me to work hard to have the best in life.” Says Acen.

Nyeko says staying close to a girl child helps close the gap girls experience when they grow into adolescent stage.

“I want to know my girl and be her friend so that I can teach her the character and morals in our family. When she goes to school, she can know what to do.” Says Nyeko.

Acen want to join Sacred Heart Girls’ School in Gulu Municipality to continue with high school education.

Gulu Woman MP, Betty Aol Ocan believes that if fathers play their role of being friends with their daughters, school drop out of the girl child will reduce.

“I could not have been so close to my children but now, I advocate for parents to be close to the girl child especially the fathers. Don’t become too busy for them. Don’t brush them away when they come to you. Plan and have time to be with them. Be their friends and provide for them to motivate them to be in school.” Aol urged the parents who attentively listened to her.

She added that the high rate of girl child school dropout is a lack of character development from home.

“S.1 and S.2 classes disturb our adolescent girls. That is when most drop out of school. Let girls be close to you. Home is the first school for any child.”

She rebuked parents who abdicate their roles and take to drinking liquor or leisure after work with colleagues.

“You find them drinking maruwa, (local brew), beer and returning home late, very rude on the girls. That creates distance between you and the child. When will this girl know love and care, some will easily be deceived by their peers! When they become pregnant, that is when you start blaming them for knowing a man or boy at an early age of 13, 14 there.”

Aol added;

“Education is the cornerstone of development. I am a teacher by profession and when parents realize that what teachers do complements characters built from home, more of our girls will attend and finish school to serve this country better.”

Aol also suggested that parents give gifts to their children when they do well as a way of standing with them amidst challenges they undergo.

She gave 23 mattresses worth 50,000/= each to outstanding performers of the 2017 PLE result and cash prizes of 50,000/= for scholastic requirements to each of the selected pupils from sub counties and divisions within Gulu district.

In 2017, Gulu district presented 2,236 candidates, 901 girls and 1,335 boys according to records from the District Education Office. 26 girls passed in Division and 49 boys  passed in Division one. The best girl scored aggregate four.

In Uganda, Poverty, teenage pregnancy and lack of mentorship programmes have been singled out as the leading causes of the high rate of girls dropping out of school.

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