May 18, 2024

Ajumo Saves Girls From Early Marriage

(This article was first published in the New Vision on June 22, 2022)

She has helped pregnant school girls in Kaberamaido to resume studies

By Michael Onyinge

Caroline Ajumo did not know that parents in her neighbourhood would send their children to her house when she started teaching her own at home.

However, this is what happened after several parents learnt that she was teaching her children at home in Kaberamaido town council, following the closure of schools due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020.

Three weeks into the lockdown, Ajumo, a teacher at Abalang Primary School in Oriamo sub-county, Kaberamaido district, was teaching 11 children at her home.

To accommodate the increasing numbers, she converted one of the rooms in her house into a classroom. When she realised she needed a blackboard to effectively teach her class, she turned a wall into a blackboard. And she did all this free of charge.

“During the lockdown, I had a small school in my home. I had children of different classes. I bought the chalk and designed a timetable to help all of them,” Ajumo said.

When the Government distributed learning materials for learners to continue studying at home during the lockdown, Ajumo welcomed more children into her house.

The parents who could not interpret the self-study materials for the children sent the learners to Ajumo’s house for help. Yet this was also the time when many people closed doors to people and strangers to protect themselves from COVID-19.

“I was afraid that I would be arrested for conducting classes during the lockdown, but the fact that I was doing this at home gave me confidence,” Ajumo said.

In order to prevent her class from becoming a COVID-19 spreader, Ajumo ensured that children observed some of the Ministry of Health guidelines in her ‘school’. She also urged parents to restrict their children’s movement.

Ajumo teaching her pupils under a tree in Kaberamaido. She has helped many girls to overcome challenges


Ajumo did not attend to her class alone during the lockdown. She also handled several cases involving primary and secondary school girls who had become pregnant in her community during the same period.

The first cases brought to her attention by parents involved two primary school girls and another who was in secondary school. One of these girls, Ajumo said, had given birth while two were expecting.

She also said she convinced parents to stop forcing their girls into early marriage after they found out that they were pregnant. One of the girls had been defiled. One has since given birth and enrolled for a tailoring course, while the other resumed her secondary school studies.

Still during the lockdown, Ajumo said she welcomed into her house a Primary Seven girl who escaped from her parents and lived with a man for several days. The girl’s parents refused to allow her back home when she tried to go back. Ajumo said she enrolled the girl for a tailoring course and is paying her tuition.

She also lives with another girl who is expecting — she is among the three girls that parents wanted to marry off after learning that they were pregnant.

The girl was enrolled for a tailoring course and parents have promised to welcome her back home once she gives birth.

The parents reportedly refused to live with her when she is pregnant. Ajumo said she disrupted marriage negotiations between the parents of the three girls and their ‘defilers’. Ajumo has also been instrumental in training girls in the making of sanitary pads and liquid soap at school to promote hygiene.

Currently, a group of 15 girls she trained continue to make liquid soap at school.

Ajumo said another group of 15 girls she trained to make the same product completed primary school last year.

She also said she has trained girls from Primary Four to Seven to make sanitary pads, which they use to manage their menstruation cycles.

“Currently, 50 girls are using the pads they make. We had 30 girls using the same (products) last year,” Ajumo added.

She teaches mathematics and science subjects in lower primary. She also teaches physical education due to her love for sports.

“I love sports and it is one of the areas I get engaged in so much. Due to my hard work, I have been appointed to lead a district team to the national competitions twice,” Ajumo said.

Netball, volleyball and football as well as athletics are her favourite sports, she added.

Ajumo has previously trained the school’s athletics team and led it to zonal competitions. Under her leadership, the school’s athletics team participated in the sub county level competitions and won.

In terms of contributing to the school’s academic performance, Ajumo also teaches Primary Six and Seven, although she is employed to teach the lower classes. “I teach in lower classes, but I also handle remedial lessons in upper classes to improve the school grades,” she said

A female pupil writes on the blackboard as Ajumo watches. She wants to see girls excel

Her Fact file

Born in 1981 in Agora village, Soroti district, Ajumo is the first-born in a family of nine. She attended Agora and Nakatunya primary schools between 1990 and 1996, before joining Amuria High School and later Light Senior Secondary School in Soroti.

Between 2003 and 2005, she attended St Aloysius Primary Teachers’ College in Soroti and launched her teaching career at Cleveland Hill Primary School in Kampala in 2006.

Ajumo completed her diploma in education in 2018, and taught at Oyama Eolo Primary School in Kaberamaido from 2010 to 2020, before joining Abalang Primary School.

 Ajumo, who is the games master, is the Uganda National Teachers’ Union representative of her school. She is the zonal chairperson of women affairs and secretary in charge of education for Atek clan in her village.

What Other People Say About Her

H ellen Acobo, the school headteacher, said Ajumo is passionate about helping girls to manage their menstrual hygiene.

“There was a girl who was stuck in a class one day after she realised she had started menstruating and did not want other pupils to know about it. Ajumo helped her without anyone noticing,” she added.

Acobo also said Ajumo has an extraordinary sense of organisation and accountability. “I ask her to purchase school items and she accounts for all money she spends,” she added.

Acobo said Ajumo is also passionate about sports and has previously helped the district with constituting sports teams for competitions.

Monica Babirye, a Primary Seven pupil, said Ajumo is a committed teacher, while Abraham Egela, a Primary Five pupil, said Ajumo is keen on discipline and simplifies mathematics for the learners.

Betty Ameso, a resident of Abalang trading centre in Kaberamaido, said Ajumo loves children and is friendly.

Aaron Egwangu, a footballer in the district, said his team receives guidance and support from Ajumo during soccer competitions.

Ajumo advises everyone to protect girls and sensitise the communities about girls’ rights. While teenage pregnancies destroy girls’ futures, Ajumo said communities should be kind to the girls and give them chance to pursue their dreams.

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