Prisoners of poverty: the plight of girl children education in Igara County, Bushenyi District (Uganda)
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- Institutt for geografi 
Poverty is a major constraint to girls’ education in Uganda. In 1997, Uganda introduced Universal Primary Education but still a limited number of girls enroll in post primary education due to monetary constraints. It is astonishing that in 2007 there are still young girls who don't have access to even basic education. This study explores the relationship between poverty, gender and the plight of girls’ education, gendered perceptions and power relations in relation to girls’ education. The focus is on Bushenyi District which is 310km from the Capital city. Bushenyi represents Districts that are remote and poor. The study further analyses how the girl child is coping with limited access to education and shows the role of the Government, Non Governmental Organizations and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in promoting gender parity in education in Uganda. The theories used in the analysis are structuration, children as competent autonomous social actors and childhood as culturally and socially constructed. Data collection methods included direct observations, eight key informant interviews, and five individual interviews with girl dropouts, nine focus group discussions of which four were for parents and five with children. My respondents were children of age 10-18, in school and out of school, caretakers (not necessarily the parents of the children I interviewed) in rural and urban parts of Igara County. Key informants were from Bushenyi and Kampala city where most NGOs dealing with girls’ education are situated. The design of the study was cross sectional and relied heavily on the situation of girls’ education at the time the data collection. The analysis applied qualitative techniques mainly informed by stories and quotes. Results show that poverty is a major factor affecting girls’ education but operates together with other factors like parameters related to patriarchy such as boy-child preference, beliefs and practices, early marriage, excessive girl-child work, pregnancy, poor menstruation management, parent’s level of education, age and orphan hood. Girls cope by indulging in agriculture, marriage, tailoring, hair dressing and becoming house maids. Policy and action recommendations call for equal important attention to principles of gender equity along with poverty issues in improving access and equity in education opportunities in Uganda. There is a need to strengthen the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) commitment and capacity to systematically integrate gender concepts in education planning, implementation and monitoring. The gender relations and the current status of the girl child need to change. Community sensitization about the value of girls’ education and their equal rights to education with the boy child would promote girls’ education. Last is making secondary education free, accessible and poverty eradication. The NGOs and UNCRC are in place but not well known to the children that they are intended to help. This is for reasons ranging from limited funds to cover the entire country and lack of enough publicity. The study contributes to understanding the issues involved in girls’ education in Bushenyi District, literature on poverty, gender and the plight of girls’ education as well as qualitative approaches with in human geographic studies.