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Rwanda Border Closure Affects Student Population In Ugandan Schools

The closure of the Gatuna border post between Uganda and Rwanda has affected a number of schools in border districts, URN reports.

Rwanda closed its borders with Uganda early this year, to purportedly expedite the construction of the single customs post at Gatuna.

During the time, the Rwandan government advised its nationals against crossing to Uganda on condition that they could not guarantee the safety of their nationals in the Ugandan territory.

Rwanda accused Uganda of hosting and facilitating dissidents especially Rwanda National Congress-RNC and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda FDLR, which have declared war on the Kigali government.

However, the directives which were followed with the destruction of all temporary bridges near the border affected a number of Rwandan nationals, who used to cross to the schools at the Uganda side of the border during school time to access education services.

 Hundreds of others were in boarding schools within Uganda.  

A number of schools have now reported a drastic fall in student numbers as hundreds of Rwandan learners never reported for the second term of school that started on May 27.  

The deputy head teacher of Katuna Primary School Nazario Mubangizi says that the school had 105 Rwandan pupils out of the total population of 355 pupils. Mubangizi says that the student population has since fallen to 250 pupils, as a number of Rwandan learners reported difficulty in crossing the porous borders to access the school.

Joab Tumwebarize, the Director of Kabale Trinity College in Kabale Municipality says that all the students who crossed to Rwanda during first term holidays never reported back to school for the second term.  

Ronald Beinomugisha Katungi, the Public Relations Officer of Bishop Barham University College Kabale-a constituent College of Uganda Christian University, says that about 120 students were blocked from crossing to study during the April intake. 

Beinomugisha adds that another five theology students were blocked from crossing to Uganda for their graduation.  

He appeals to the governments of both countries to settle the matter so that business returns to normal.  

Jean-Batista Byaruhanga, a parent from Burera district in northern Rwanda says they received an order from authorities restraining them from crossing to Uganda for any service. Byaruhanga appeals to Rwandan President, Paul Kagame to open the border and save his own people from the suffering they have been subjected to.    

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