Underage children in Karamoja sneak into schools for meal

School administrators in Karamoja sub-region say that they are overwhelmed by the number of children they are currently feeding. Half of these children are not of school going age, leading authorities to believe that parents are sending them because the situation at home is dire.

Hunger pushing Karamoja children to sneak into schools to get a meal

At Lokitela Ebu Primary School in Kotido, they have registered an increase of 300 children from the usual number of pupils received at the kitchen for porridge at 10:00 am. The new batch of children comprises minors who are not enrolled in school.

Due to the increase, meals are handed out on a first-come-first-serve basis, meaning many miss out in the process. However, those who miss breakfast don't leave, rather they mill around the school until the next meal at lunchtime.

The headteacher of the school, Moses Ghinno, said that they are feeding more than 1,000 children from the neighbouring villages and their resources are strained. Ghinno has asked the government to support the school to continue feeding the desperate children.

Similarly, at Losakucha Primary School in Kotido, the queue of pupils at lunchtime has overwhelmed the school's maize and beans stock. Alfonse Ongum, a class teacher, revealed that schools have turned into a sanctuary for starving children. Some of them do not return home if they don't get food at school.

The District Education Officer of Kotido, Angelo Mark Lowari, has asked authorities to redirect some food relief from communities to schools.

More interventions to increase schools' capacity include the Creak Project initiated by Adventist Relief Agency. Under the project, model farms have been set up in schools in Kotido and financial relief has been extended to village SACCOs to support learners.

According to Ivan Namoma, Kotido deputy Residential District Commissioner, the government is doing its best to see that food is distributed uniformly.

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