Journalists in Uganda have been urged to promote rural community stories through reporting that enhances the development of the country.
’’Don’t report stories in urban centers only, but also in rural communities. The media should not wait for disasters to happen before paying attention to rural areas. Rural communities go through a lot of challenges, including the quality of education, healthcare and crime, among others. However, such stories aren’t reported about,’’ Media Challenge Initiative chief executive officer, Mr Abaas Mpindi said during the national media dialogue on education at their head offices in Ggaba, Kampala.
The dialogue organised by Media Challenge Initiative and DW Akademie intended to provide a platform to government, civil society organizations and the media stakeholders in attendance to share, learning and explore opportunities for consolidating gains and addressing challenges in the education system.
“In Uganda, 1 out of 10 school children didn’t report back to school in January 2022 after schools were closed for two years because some were forced into early marriages, while others got pregnant. If such stories can be reported about, it can reduce the number of school drop-outs in the country,” Mr Mpindi said.
He added that “we should not wait for disasters to see stories from places such as Karamoja, but should point out some of the good things that happen in those communities too, such as how people in those areas are solving the challenges they are facing.”
It was noted during the meeting that 72 percent of children in public schools (from P3-P7) cannot read or comprehend a primary two level story and over 60 percent of children who enroll in primary school drop out before completion.
Mr Filbert Baguma, the general secretary Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU), urged the government to follow up on schools in relation to how teachers conduct lessons and on the performance of students.
“Continued participation in such stakeholder engagements will enable stakeholders to establish more challenges and devise appropriate solutions,” he argued.
During the dialogue, some journalists pointed out limited resources being one of the major frustrations to covering rural community stories.
“The media houses we work for don’t have enough resources to facilitate us to cover community stories. Therefore, you may find that the money incurred while pursuing a particular story is even more than what you’ll be paid for the same story” one of the journalists said.
Another journalists added: “Also, some community leaders aren’t cooperative so we find it hard to get the information needed. For example, during Covid-19 outbreak many girls were impregnated but some of the parents and leaders declined to divulge such information which makes our work challenging.”
Transportation challenges was another issue highlighted during the dialogue, given that such stories happen in far rural areas which are hard to reach.