By Hanning Mbabazi
Parliament of Uganda presided over by the Deputy Speaker Rt. Hon Jacob Oulanyah has tasked the Education ministry to present a report within three months on the progress on government’s plan to provide sanitary pads to schoolgirls in primary school.
Oulanyah made the directive after the Minister of State for Sports, Charles Bakkabulindi failed to inform the legislature when the government plans to fulfil the presidential pledge.
The Minister was responding to a question raised by Dokolo Woman MP, Cecilia Ogwal on the provision of sanitary pads to school girls as promised by President Museveni during the 2016 presidential campaigns.
Bakkabulindi said that while the government has not fulfilled the pledge, the ministry is implementing policies and guidelines that promote menstrual hygiene management such as sensitizing girls, parents and other stakeholders to support government efforts to keep girls in schools.
Bakkabulindi also explained that the ministry has a National Strategy for Girls Education which outlines government’s efforts to keep girls in school.
He added that the ministry has also supported efforts to train learners on how to make pads by using locally available materials.
Bakkabulindi also explained that the ministry is, however, conducting a joint pilot study with Uganda Red Cross Society and other partners with aim of eventually providing sanitary pads to all schools in the country.
However, Ogwal noted that the minister’s statement does not treat the matter as an emergency yet girls could drop out during the next school term and worse still, fail to sit for Primary Leaving Examinations, Uganda Certificate of Education and Uganda Advanced Education Certificate.
Ogwal says that it is possible for the government to fulfil the pledge because, in neighbouring Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed a law to provide free, sufficient and quality sanitary pads to avert school dropout rates.
Ogwal insisted that the minister should not take three months to report back to the house because the matter is urgent.
According to the 2014 National Population Census, out of a total population of 34.6 million people, 20.1 million were in school-going age from 3 to 24 in pre-primary, primary, secondary and post-secondary.
However, out of the 7.3 million pupils aged 6 to 12 years in the primary school category, 3.6 million were females while out of the 5.2 million students in secondary level aged 13 to 18, 2.6 of them were females.