Amudat, Uganda | URN | The education fraternity in Amudat district in Northern Uganda is lamenting the absence of a girl student from Pokot Senior Secondary School who was forcefully married off three days before sitting for her national examinations.
The student, whose name the grief-stricken teachers have withheld, had just turned 18 years and had finished paying for UNEB registration fees for the national O’level examinations that started officially on Monday 17, October 2021. She had even undergone the UCE pre-exam briefing.
Tragedy however struck when she went home briefly, supposedly to check on her sick mother, where she was grabbed and forcefully married off to a rich Kenyan man.
The head teacher Pokot SS, Bonifes Eculu, said the girl was very bright and was especially doing very well in science subjects. He said the arrangement to hastily marry off the girl to a Kenyan rich man was made by her parents and relatives.
“They convinced the girl that her mother was very sick and had no one to help her,” lamented the head teacher. “So the poor girl rushed home to see the situation of the mother, only to be forcefully taken to Kenya for the man to marry her. We are feeling a lot of pain for her and for our school community.”
Anthony Lowoth the district education officer of Amudat said early marriages in the Pokot community are still a big challenge blocking the region from benefitting from education.
“Imagine a girl who has been struggling from primary one to senior four, but instead of allowing her first sit her papers, they even denied her that chance, it hurts so much,” he said.
Lowoth however said the examination went on well on the first day, adding that from the two senior secondary schools in Amudat district six candidates never turned up for the exam including the girl who has been forcefully married off.
“We have two senior secondary school in the whole district: Pokot SS and Pokot Girls Karita SS,” he said. “In Pokot SS they were 53 candidates registered but five of them never turned up including one girl who was forcefully married off, while in Pokot girls they were 33 candidates but one candidate, a boy, just decided to go to Kenya to do business,” he said.
Lowoth appealed to parents in Amudat to value education as the best to development.
Moses Ruto, a parent and resident of Locengenge in Amudat town council, said parents in Amudat need to be sensitized to appreciate the value of education.
“Most of the parents in Karamoja think livestock is much better than education and this is wrong, drought can kill all livestock, but someone can still buy livestock if he or she is working,” he said.