Pupils bordering Murchison Falls National Game Park are hardly attending studies at home learning centres after stray elephants invaded some parts of Nwoya District.
After schools were closed down due to the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country in March this year, government opted for home learning programme to ensure that learners do not lose out on their studies even though they are not at school.
Our correspondent in Nwoya says that Anaka, Purongo and Got Apwoyo are the sub-counties that have been invaded by parades of stray elephants since they border the national park.
The Anaka Sub-county LC 3 chairman, Mr Geoffrey Opobo, says that Lapono B, Agung A and Pabali are the most affected villages in the sub-county where the herbivores are seen roving every day.
The politician says that the presence of the elephants in the area has not only affected the home learning programme but also caused fear among the residents since the animals can be dangerous to people.
“This has not only affected home learning but also people’s movement. People are at risk of being charged at by the elephants,” said Mr Opobo.
In June this year, 17 head of elephants crossed from the national park into the community in Lapono village. This scared pupils at the nearby home learning centre forcing them to halt their studies until the road was declared safe for use.
Mr Benjamin Too-rom, a teacher at one of the home learning centers in Anaka sub – county says that often times pupils who manage to attend, reach at the learning centre late after the road is proved free from the roaming elephants.
“This is greatly affecting learning in our centre, the few pupils who come to the school are forced to get back to the community to mobilise their fellow pupils,” Mr Too-rom said.
Lakarober Fibi, a primary seven pupil of Alokolum Gok primary school in Anaka sub-county says that being occupied with guarding crop gardens against the elephants, is affecting her time for learning.
“I don’t have enough time for the home learning programme and this is greatly affecting me in catching up with colleagues yet during normal school days I would have enough time for class,” Lakarober says.
Ms Vicky Adong, a parent of five school going age children in Anaka sub-county says that save for the children guarding crop gardens against the destructive elephants, they are adamant to attend the home learning centres for studies because of the uncertainty lying behind the reopening of schools.
“Even children themselves are tired of reading from home during this period of lockdown and the government seems not to reopen schools soon. So, children are now busy guarding gardens against being destroyed by the elephants,” she said.
The Nwoya District Senior Inspector of Schools, Mr Phonic Onekalit Kidega, confirms that the elephants have disrupted home studies in some areas adjacent to the national game park.
The educationist says that most pupils have resorted to guarding crop gardens especially at night lest they are destroyed by the herbivores.
This has had a negative impact on the pupils’ learning since most of them doze during class time after spending sleepless nights driving away the animals.
“We are quite aware of many learners not benefitting from the home learning programme because they spent most of their time sleeping after spending sleepless guarding crop gardens from being destroyed by the elephants,” he says.
However, Mr Kidega asks parents to devise all possible means of ensuring that their children attend the home learning centres instead of using the elephant invasion as a licence to stop them from studies.
Nwoya district has more than 52,000 learners in nursery, primary and secondary schools.
This website was unable to get a comment from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
Last year, government earmarked Shs50b for fencing off 20 kilometres of Murchison Falls National Park boundary with an electrified enclosure in Purongo Sub-county.
In April this year, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) kicked started digging of a five kilometre trench in Anaka Sub-county to stop animals from straying from the Murchison Falls National Park into the community.