Absenteeism Up As Winter Bites

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By Petronella Sibeene

OSIRE

As the winter season sets in and most children wish they could stay home, kindergarten teachers at Osire Refugee Camp have appealed to parents to ensure that their children do not stay away from school.

In what seems to have become a custom over the years, close to 60 children between the ages of three and six stay away from school during winter, confirmed kindergarten coordinator Lina Katengi.

There are 609 pre-school learners and 11 teachers at the refugee camp whose parents are from Rwanda, Burundi, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda.

“It is good that we have kindergartens where education is free but I appeal to parents to bring their children for lessons,” Katengi told New Era.

She added that the rate of absenteeism from classes grows during winter, a situation she described as worrisome especially for those aged six years and are to be promoted to Grade 1 the following year.

“Sometimes parents take their children along when they go to collect firewood. This leads to children missing school for even two to three months. They should leave the children at school as they (parents) go on with their daily businesses,” stressed the kindergarten coordinator.

Already, they have started seeing some faces missing in classes, said Katengi.
Kindergarten learners start classes at 08h00 until 12h00.

She also bemoaned the lack of electricity and yet important teaching techniques such as the use of audio-visual equipment.

“There is no electricity at the two operating kindergartens and that makes it difficult to use audio-visual materials, songs and stories,” she said.
Katengi also appealed to the Ministry of Education to provide a syllabus and curriculum for pre-primary school.

She, however, confirmed approaching the education officer at the camp, Sonia Iyambo, who is expected to report the case to the
Regional Education Di-rector.

“We are positive that they will respond to our situation,” said Katengi.
Despite being a refugee camp, Osire has one of the highest pass rates in the country.

“The school in the Osire refugee camp only goes up to Grade 10. The Osire Camp School had a pass rate of 63 percent in 2007, way above the national average,” said United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Representative, Joyce Mends-Cole.

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