Mbarara District Education Officer Gabriel Ahimbisibwe has urged girls in the district to join patriotism clubs and acquire skills that will protect them from sexual assault, kidnap and even murder.
Ahimbisibwe, while speaking at the pass-out of over 500 school girls who completed a course in patriotism, said such self-defense skills are essential not only in protecting the lives of the young girls, but also keeping them in school.
At total of 545 students from the classes of S.1, 2, 3 and 5 at Kashaka Girls Secondary School were taken through the training course and passed out on Wednesday.
The DEO in his remarks, pointed out that one of the biggest challenges the district still faces is the high school dropout, which he partly blamed on sex related misfortunes that school going girls suffer at a young age.
The primary school dropout in Mbarara according to the DEO currently stands at 62%, which is way above the national average rate of 47%.
He noted that such patriotism trainings would go a long way in addressing such challenges.
On top of self-defense skills, the school girls were exposed to skilling in gun use including the assembling and stripping of guns, the comprehensive history of Uganda, Vision 2040, discipline and methods of work, patriotism for nation building and social economic transformation, education on natural resources and its impact on politics and conservation, routine patriotic activities in schools and their identity issue, constitutionalism, financial literacy and personal development skills, the role of media and ICT in development, security issues, Uganda national symbols and democratic governance.
At the event, Mbarara RDC Capt. Martha Asiimwe observed that the time frame for the course was too short and that students never made attempts to target shooting which is the key of the training.
“I know the time has been short and you have done well to grasp all this in training but without shooting it’s not a course; we shall organize another day for you,” said the RDC said.
The Deputy Commissioner Patriotism Secretariat from the Office of the President Mubarak Magomu however, deviated from this, saying that target shooting according to the constitution is for those who are above 18 years of age.
“I heard the RDC talking of shooting but you are all under 18 years and the law cannot permit us unless parliamentarians amend it,” he said.
The training was conducted under the National Secretariat for Patriotism Clubs (NSPC); a presidential initiative launched by President Museveni in 2009 to “produce a new breed of enlightened population committed and devoted to national causes, and have the love for the country.”
Magomu added that the training is in line with the government’s mandate to inculcate patriotism values and norms to all students and youth of Uganda through patriotism studies.
“We want to bring to your notice that it’s a program to all students and teachers in post primary institutions regardless of status as it is enshrined in our constitution…Article 17 clearly spells out that it is the duty of every able bodied citizen of this country to undergo military training,” he stressed.
The function was concluded by the matching parade, gun stripping and rewarding certificates to the students who completed their 1 week patriotism course.