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Stigma Pushes Two Albino Children Out of School

Two children with albinism have dropped out of school in Gulu district because of extreme stigma from their peers. They are Daniel Rubangakene and his sister, Rebecca Masala.

The two were in primary three and four classes at Paicho Primary School in Paicho Sub County, Aswa County. Margaret Akech, the mother of the minors told URN that the duo shunned school where they have been studying for the past three years citing increased stigma from their peers. She said the teachers had failed to protect the children from daily insults and mockery from their peers.

Uganda Radio Network couldn’t establish why Paicho Primary School found it hard to protect the children from peer injustice. On Wednesday, the children enrolled for studies at the special need school in Gulu Prisons Primary School.

Galaxy Poets of Northern Uganda, a community based charity organization pledged to take over paying fees for the children at the school. James Onono Ojok, the Coordinator Galaxy Poets of Northern Uganda, rescued the children from their village in Paicho to study in a special needs school in Gulu Town.

He said it is a pity that children with special needs are stigmatized despite huge government investment in promotion of human rights.

Christopher Charles Opira, the head teacher Gulu primary school, says they have adequate trained teachers to protect the children from abuse that will expel them from school.

Opira admits that the task might be challenging considering that the duo are the first set of albino learners admitted to the school in three decades.

Irene Grace Lajwee, the class teacher of Masala, says she will ensure that she is treated with respect by explaining her condition to fellow classmates to attract sympathy and win friendship.

To enhance learning of the two minors, Gulu Prisons Primary School has gazetted front seats and made special considerations for their uniforms.

Both Rubangakene and Masala have been granted special permission to wear long sleeved tops on a pair of trousers and a long skirt respectively.

Coupled with the liberty to put on protective head gears, the school hopes the dress code will provide adequate comfort against sun rays and insect bites.

Albinism is a condition, which reduces the amount of melanin pigment formed in the skin, hair and the eye. This insufficient pigment gives albino persons a unique brown appearance, blurred vision and makes them highly reactive to ultra violet rays in sun light and insect bites.

Albinism is not understood clearly in Northern Uganda with many people taking it for a contagious hereditary disease. The misconception exposes persons with albinism to great discrimination and isolation.

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