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Education sidelined as Busia children indulge in stone business

A child rushes stone in the outskirts of a quarry. Many school-going children in Busia have abandoned education and being pushed to child labour in the stone/aggregate business. (PHOTO/File)

BUSIA- Children in Busia district have become actively involved in the stone business at the expense of their education.

Kinene Bosco, a Headteacher at one of the local schools has revealed that children have given up on attending regular school as most of them have opted to go and carry stones as a means to earn a living.

Most of these children who are below 14 years of age, work in road construction areas and mines as casual labourers where they carry heavy stones while others go to town to do some little work in order to earn a bit of money.

The children are paid a meagre wage of UGX 15,000 to UGX 20,000 to manually carry these heavy boulders, whereas their adult colleagues are paid UGX 50,000-80,000

They pile the stones on the roadside where vehicles can access them easily.

However, the exercise is conducted during weekdays, a period within which these children are expected to be studying.

“We make some money to be able to get what to eat, dress and also provide for our families because some of us are so poor. “A child explained his plight.

The police has tried to chase the children away but they still come back. Headteachers of Busia Boda Primary school and Madilila Primary school say that many children have left school and resorted to carrying stones for money.

Wilberforce Nabamba the head of education of Busia district says “local councils should take the trouble to see to it that these children get back to school because this business of carrying stones for money will only retard their education.”

Residents have noted that several activities like the stone business, looking for goldfish and market vending have influenced the high levels of children dropping out of school especially in Busia district.

The police has in the past done investigations; in some cases arresting the culprits who take advantage of children as a cheaper source of labour.

However, things seem to have gone back to normal with the renewed influx of school drop-outs who are flocking the stone sites to make a quick buck instead of spending this time at school.

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