PAKWACH. The fishing community in Panyimur sub-county, Pakwach district is concerned about the high school dropout rate and its negative impact in the area.
The locals who predominantly derive their livelihood from fishing activities on Albert Nile say the act has led to numerous cases of early marriage and teenage pregnancy.
According to Mr Leonard Okello, the Angumu village chairperson who doubles as a fisherman, the total dependence on fishing has greatly affected school attendance and completion rate in the area.
As a result, he said locals are now worried of the available community job opportunities that require minimum academic qualifications which they say may end up being taken by people elsewhere since most of their children have resorted to dropping out of school.
Okello noted that given the proximity of the landing site, most learners have frustrated their parents who obliged to educate them by using school fees on luxurious lifestyles and return home without certificates but with the only hope of engaging in fishing.
"The activities on the lake are killing our future generation. It is now very hard to get youths with ordinary level certificates even after paying their school fees, so let's wake up as parents," he appealed.
Okello also observed that the quick earnings from fishing by children eligible to study has resulted into laziness among youths who are contended of the current situation than the future.
Ms Juliana Amia, 36, a mother of five narrated that she dropped out of school at the age of 17 and got married due to the money she used to get from fishermen at the landing site.
"I want stringent measures to be taken to protect fish species on the lake as well as arresting girls and boys shunning school so that they don’t repeat the same mistake I did," she demanded.
At the various landing sites in Panyimur and the neighboring Dei, teenagers are seen fishing and some working as casual laborers at the expense of going to school.
"We are blessed with water resources like snails and silver fish which can be used for feeding chicks, but all these require skills and education. Let our parents desist from the attitude of I can no longer control my children," Mr Wilson Fred Obanga, a resident and also an Engineer advised.
Obanga added that the low level of education in Panyimur has affected the government’s effort of creating alternative commercial projects like bakery, carpentry, and welding with available untapped power supply in the area.
Ms Christine Manda, the area female councilor who doubles as the Pakwach district speaker said numerous measures such as sensitizing the community on the relevance of education have been effected with a lot of resistance.
She, however, maintained that the district is already in advance stage of drafting an education ordinance to address the challenge.