Rukungiri children resort to sand mining as schools remain closed – Daily Monitor

Children of school going age have now resorted to extending manual services as academic institutions remain under shutdown over Covid-19 in Uganda. PHOTO/RONALD KABANZA
The continued closure of education institutions is worrying parents in Rukungiri District as several children of school going age are now engaged in money making ventures, ignoring virtual learning programs offered through radios, TV’s and online portals.
Parents wonder whether these school going children, majority aged 12-15, will be able to concentrate on studies once schools reopen.
“We know Covid-19 is there and is real but we can put them in boarding such that they remain in schools because the situation is getting out of hand,” Denis Tusaba,  a father of three said.
Maria Rose Mugisha, said two of her four children are just an example of the hundreds involved in sand mining, brick making and other related activities that see them leave homes during wee morning hours.
‘‘When I talked to them, they even abused me. They are now exposed to drug abuse and alcoholism because they are not at school. Let the government open schools and save us if we are good natured children that will benefit the country,’’ Mugisha appealed.   
Each trip of sand on a Fuso truck goes for Shs40, 000 – Shs60, 000 depending on the quality. Bricks cost between Shs150, 000- Shs180, 000 and Shs5000 shillings for loading onto the truck.
Parents claim exposure to money at an infant age will soon be a problem.
“We are rarely worried about the future of our children because they no longer think about schooling some don’t even remember where they kept their books,’’ Derrick Muwonge, another parent said.
Kennedy Mbabazi, a sand miner says that in the past, mining activities only attracted the youths aged 18 and above but that changed recently especially after schools closed.
 “The government should intervene and reopen schools again because we could hardly get young boys at mining centres,’’ he reasoned.  
Rukungiri District chairperson, Geoffrey Kyomukama urged parents to devise means of supporting their children to suit global competition.
“Sit with your children, tell them the importance of education and problems of uneducated person. Encourage them to leave the mining sites and revise books,” he said.
Educationist and retired secondary head teacher, Friday Muntu opined that ‘‘the government should devise means of reopening schools as soon as possible.’’
Schools were closed following a surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths in Uganda in June 2021 but some government officials indicate they are not about to reopen. 
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