The future of many students in Tarime remains bleak as they continue to drop out of school due to various reasons such as early marriages, pregnancy and gold mining.
IT'S a sorry state of affairs in Tarime District as some secondary school students are trading pens and books for picks and shovels by abandoning school in search of gold at the near-by Nyamongo Gold Mine.
What is more disturbing is the fact that after sweating and toiling, braving the unfavourable weather to get these precious stones, the students sell them to raise money they spend willy-nilly at Maini Bar, a popular brothel known as “Kwa Pili Kiuno”, a name given after its proprietor.
A number of Nyamongo Secondary School students interviewed by THISDAY recently lashed out at the Pili Kiuno Bar and Guest House for promoting commercial sex business by using girls of school going age to entice the students-cum-young miners into sex business.
A visit by this reporter at Pili Kiuno bar brought with it shocking revelations of girls as young as 15 years old selling their bodies for as much as 5,000/- for a single game, but with strict conditions of playing the game at the Pili Kiuno complex, at a bill that the young miners can afford almost every day.
This seems to have triggered a time bomb where young people in this area have been turned into sex maniacs something that is forcing many schoolboys to abandon school to become intruders “gold stones smugglers” at the North Mara Nyamongo Barrick Gold Mines, where they steal gold, sell it and recklessly use the money to satisfy their insatiable sexual appetite.
The Pili Kiuno’s complex has also been reduced to a smoking chamber as boys and girls smoke and drink beer in darkness, as light in this bar will in most cases be switched off. Light in the beer hall is switched on only on request.
At Nyamongo Secondary School alone, students interviewed by this reporter said more than 30 students, know by names, dropped out of school to join the dubious mining activities, let alone other students from schools surrounding the North Mara Mine.
The Nyamongo Secondary School official attendance register from the school headmaster's office shows that 87 students have dropped out of school in the past three years, 18 among them dropped school due to pregnancy while the rest are said to have either joined the famous mining activities or were married off.
The school academic officer, Suguda Shokolo, told THISDAY that students were dropping out of school due to pregnancy at the school because they are snared by Nyamongo Mine workers who use money as their baits.
He also blamed lack of hostels and lack of adequate education on reproductive health as another contributing factor..
The students at the school are of the view that the mine has turned into more of a curse than a blessing to the community on grounds that the Barrick Gold Mine workers are said to be leading in impregnating schoolgirls while they use their money to cover up their dirty tracks by bribing some police officers and parents of the pregnant and affected girls.
The police force has also been singled out as an impediment when it comes to dealing with the school pregnancy issue allegedly by taking bribes from those who would have made the girls pregnant while at the same time are said to be using a lot of energy in protecting the Barrick Gold mining investors rather than the common people.
“The police officers confiscate gold from the ordinary people and arrest the people unnecessarily in the name of the investor with most of the officers having personal posh cars bought out of cash accrued from the confiscated gold stones,” the students said.
They cited an example of their school mate Boniface Charles, who impregnated his schoolmate, Dainess Bega, saying the parents of Dainess reported the matter to the police but police officers, instead were bribed by Boniface's parents and the case died a natural death.
“Believe it or not the same girl went to live with Boniface at his parents’ home and they now have a child while Boniface is in form three C at the school, going on with studies as usual and nothing has happened to him.
Approached for comment, the Acting Tarime and Rorya Police Regional Commander David Hiza denied the allegations, and said that his officers are on the ground to ensure maximum security for every citizen in the area regardless of status.
He, however, went on to shift the blame on their Member of Parliament Charles Mwera and the Matongo Ward Councillor Mwikwabe Machage, for being irresponsible as they have failed to visit the school since they were elected to map a way forward on problems bedevilling the school.
The students also said that if the situation remains uncontrolled then the future of most students will remain bleak as they will fail to acquire education. This will see them reeling in abject poverty as they fail to make headway into life.
They went on to recommend that parents and the government should team up and build hostels for all schools while the police force should take stern measures on those who shatter students' educational dreams.