Students in Uganda.

The system of education in Uganda has a structure of 7 years of primary education, 6 years of secondary education (divided into 4 years of lower secondary and 2 years of upper secondary school), and 3 to 5 years of post-secondary education.[1] Education in Uganda is administered in English. All throughout the levels in the education structure, modules are taught and assessed in English. The government of Uganda recognizes education as a basic human right and continues to strive to provide free primary education to all children in the country. However, issues with funding, teacher training, rural populations, and inadequate facilities continue to hinder the progress of educational development in Uganda.[2] Girls in Uganda are disproportionately discriminated against in terms of education; they face harsher barriers when trying to gain an education and it has left the female population disenfranchised, despite government efforts to close the gap.[3]

Primary education

The headmaster of Nsaasa Primary School answers a question for a USAID worker.

The present system of education, known as Universal Primary Education (UPE), has existed since 1997, and its introduction was the result of democratisation and open elections, as there was popular support for free education.[4] Despite its promising boosts in enrolment, issues with funding and organisation have continued to plague the UPE.[5][4] In 1999 there were six million pupils receiving primary education, compared to only two million in 1986. Numbers received a boost in 1997 when free primary education was made available to four children per family. Not all primary school graduates go on to take any form of secondary education.[6] This is contingent upon their passing their Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE).

Uganda is one of East Africa's developing countries, bordered by Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and Kenya. It occupies 236,040 square kilometres (91,140 sq mi) and has 26,404,543 people.[7] According to CIA World Fact Book 2004, more than 80 percent of its population is rural and 35% of the people lives below poverty line.[8] The United Nations characterised the current condition of Uganda with its unstable government and struggling people as "the world’s worst humanitarian crisis."[9]

Community school at Kolir (Bukedea District)

In 1997 the Ugandan government introduced the Universal Primary Education (UPE) program to improve enrollment and attainment in primary schools.[10] It was initially realized to provide free education for four children per family, but the program was not performing based in its regulations due to the complex structure of Ugandan families. Most Ugandan families have more than four children and households started sending every child, which resulted in a rapid increase in student enrollment in primary schools.[8] Due to the circumstances, President Museveni announced that the UPE was open to all children of all families (Omona 74). When the new policy was executed, schools experienced a massive influx of pupils and the demand for learning materials, teachers, and infrastructure became a challenge to the education system.[8] Ngaka argues that the UPE resulted in costly consequences, including but not limited to a poor quality education, low pupil achievement, untrained teachers, improper infrastructures and classroom settings.[8] The Human Rights Measurement Initiative gives Uganda a score of 92.3% for primary school enrolment.

Uganda has seven years of primary education and the legal age for school entry is six.[9] According to the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) statistics, school enrollments increased from three million to 5.3 million in 1997 and the number rapidly increased to seven million by 2004.[11] Even though the increased number of pupils was perceived as a good thing, there were only 125,883 teachers, exceeding the UPE required pupil-teacher ratio of 1:40.[11] The large number of pupils makes the learning environment poorer as it becomes harder for the teacher to be heard and teach. According to Arbeiter and Hartley, classes have between 70 and 150 pupils and there is over-age studying in all schools. Moyi explains the issue of many classes having the inappropriate age of pupils as having been driven by late enrolment or grade repetition, which in turn is caused by the poor quality of education.[9] For instance, “third grade included pupils aged between seven to sixteen years and in sixth grade there were pupils up to nineteen years of age."[9]

Secondary education

There is a significant disparity between enrolment rates in primary and secondary schools in Uganda. Census data from 2004 indicates that for every ten students enrolled in primary schools, only one is enrolled at a secondary institution.[1][12] The Human Rights Measurement Initiative gives Uganda a score of 36%. The structure of Uganda's secondary education system follows the education system of its former colonial masters, Britain. It is divided into the Ordinary level and Advanced level.

Lower secondary consists of 4 years of schooling at the end of which students undertake Ordinary-level exams (O-level) in at least 8 subjects with a maximum of 10 subjects. Upper secondary consists of 2 years of schooling at the end of which students sit Advanced-level exams (A-level) in at least 3 subjects.[13][14]

The curriculum for lower secondary is currently being reviewed by the National Curriculum Development Centre, and a new curriculum is expected to be rolled out in 2014 or 2015.

Three-year technical schools provide an alternative to lower secondary school. Alternatives for graduates from lower secondary school include: 2-3 year Technical institutes; 2 year Primary Teacher Colleges (PTC); Department Training Colleges (DTCs) and Upper secondary schools; including:

International schools

International schools in Uganda
Name Location Population founded
Acacia International School
Aga Khan High School
Bethel International Christian School
Delhi Public School International
Galaxy International School of Uganda
Seven Hills International School
Taibah International School
Hana International School Uganda
Heritage International School
International School of Uganda Kampala
Rainbow International School Kampala
Kampala International School Kampala
Harvest International School
Christian International School
Vienna College Namugongo[19] Namugongo

Post-secondary education

Although 60,000 to 70,000 students in Uganda leave secondary school each year qualified to go on to higher education, only some 35 percent of them (25,000) are able to find places at the limited number of institutions. The majority of students go to universities, both public and private. Makerere University in Kampala has about half of the total student population in Uganda's universities. The remainder are distributed among the more than 30 private universities and a smaller number of non-university institutions. Recognized universities in Uganda include:

Government universities

Religious-affiliated universities

Private secular universities

Vocational and technical education

Ugandan Schools and Workplace training incorporate computer skills

Vocational and Technical Education is a necessary aspect of the education system in Uganda. The UN has led efforts to support this form of education through the UNESCO subdivision International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). According to a UN report, "Uganda’s TVET mission is defined as being to ensure that individuals and enterprises acquire the skills they need to raise productivity and income."[20] These TVET programs range in both complexity and scope. Some provide for craftsmen or technician level training that replaces standard modes of secondary education, while some TVET programs provide graduate engineering level education to students seeking education at the tertiary or post secondary level.[20]

Literacy programs

Young mothers receive communal based informal education

Early literacy movements were characterized by Western aid and leadership and have since given way to a more local decentralized approach to adult and youth literacy in Uganda. This transition is due in part to the realization of leaders in the West and in Uganda that literacy, and literacy in English particularly, is not a silver bullet for solving Uganda's economic issues.[21] Much of the literacy work is conducted by NGOs acting on a local level in conjunction with local or village governments. There is a great demand for these programs, and their rates of return, satisfaction,[22] and literacy retention for graduates have been high.[23] However, these programs face great challenges including lack of funding, social reluctance, and a general lack of appreciation for literacy and literature.[24][23]

Post-conflict Northern Uganda

Education is important for a successful post-conflict transition in Northern Uganda (see Conflict in Northern Uganda), as it helps develop peoples' abilities to break free of circles of violence and suffering.[25] Uganda's Universal Primary Education (UPE) was initiated under the 1992 Uganda’s Government White Paper to achieve human development by providing the resources for every child to enter and remain in school up until secondary school, ensuring affordable education, and reducing poverty by providing individuals with basic skills.[26] Uganda's Universal Primary Education (UPE) has resulted in high enrolment rates in Northern Uganda, but education tends to be of a low quality and few pupils actually complete primary school. There are inadequate facilities; e.g. out of 238 primary schools in Pader, 47 are still under trees, limited teacher accommodation is causing high rates of teacher absenteeism and in some areas the average primary school teacher to student ratio is 1:200.[25]

Since 2006, when the conflict in Northern Uganda ended, the education system has needed sustained support, and it has played a role in post-war recovery and reconciliation.[27] Along with the academic curriculum, teachers in this region are required to guide, support, and serve as role models to the students. Successful international donor-funded programs in northern Uganda have covered the costs of teacher trainings for secondary schools to ensure children stay in school and are taught adequate material that result in higher national test scores.[28] A successful government program provided teachers' classroom aides who focused their attention on students who had fallen behind. It significantly improved the learning outcomes of these students. [28]

There is evidence to suggest that completion of secondary school is necessary to provide an individual with a proper chance to escape poverty, as employment and income levels for those who completed only primary schools are similar to those who did not attend at all. Post-conflict Northern Uganda has particular difficulties as teachers are hard to find. The conflict created a lost generation without an adequate education themselves and teachers from other areas are still concerned about security in the region. Many lost family members during the conflict and forced displacement from their homes disrupted their lives and communities, leading to a loss of stability and support systems.[29] Extra support for children in schools is needed to rebuild the immense loss of a support system, to provide life skills, and have someone they feel safe and comfortable going to after years of instability. Scholars say that boosting education will allow every child to grow up in an environment where they are empowered to contribute freely, safely, and fully to their own lives and those of others in their communities.[29]

Female education

Young women receiving teacher training

Literacy discrepancies and educational inequity are a serious factor in the propagation of gender inequality. Female school attendance at all levels of society in Uganda is lower than that of men.[30] This can be attributed to poverty, inadequate infrastructure, social pressures, and early maternity.[31] These barriers continue throughout a woman's life, as one cited challenge to adult females' participation in literacy education in Uganda is home life.[30] A World Bank report found that a significant force in preventing attendance at adult literacy classes was husbands stopping their wives from attending.[23] According to United Nations' Girls Education Initiative statistics, literacy rates for young females still lag behind that of young boys by five percent, and nearly half of all girls in Uganda are married before the age of 18.[32] Studies have shown that marriage and pregnancy rates prior to the age of 18 is decreased by roughly 7% when girls receive an extra year of education.[33]

Since 1997, UPE has aimed to bring equality of education to all the children of the country, specifically to those in rural, impoverished areas. It has had controversial results, but overall the UPE program has successfully allowed for higher enrollment, specifically among young girls. However, there is no clarity over whether there are true gender discrimination factors affecting whether the children go to school; it is noted that girls enrollment is dependent upon their age and their mother's level of schooling. Boys, on the other hand, are not affected by their father or mother's education level.[34] Uganda received a score of .517 on the UN Development Programme Gender Equality index as reported in the Human Development Report.[32] This measure evaluates the respective equality of women in various dimensions including: health, empowerment, and access to labor market.[35]

Uganda implemented the National Strategy for Girls' Education (NSGE) in order to bring equality in the education system for both women and girls and indicates some of the various impediments to them obtaining an education, and particularly secondary education.[36] Ultimately, the NSGE framework is more inclined to identify these barriers rather than offer insight to help overcome these obstacles such as location, menstruation, home responsibilities and overall attitudes within the school domain.[36]

Menstruation is a barrier girls face limiting them to attend school. Since 2016, successful interventions in Ugandan schools include the distribution of reusable sanitary pad kits.[37] This gives girls confidence to attend school without being held back by their menstruation. Providing essential resources like sanitary pads ensures better well-being and reinforces a sense of dignity and self-worth.[38]

In 2007 the government implemented Universal Secondary Education (USE) with research showing that girls secondary public education enrollment rates increased approximately 49%.[39] This policy is most beneficial to girls of poor households who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to attend due to fees and the general belief that boys secondary education yields more benefits than a girls.[39] There are a few explanations for the increased enrollment aside from the USE policy such as poor or inaccurate reporting of student enrollment, the growing population, and new schools being built or included in the USE policy.[40] Further, the overall performance since the USE has been utilized has decreased in the schools, as teachers are working in worse conditions and students are not as motivated, especially as their parents have now seen education as completely in the realm of the government whereas the policy meant to involve a plethora of actors to support children's education.[40]

The government has attempted various policies targeted at adult education, with inconsistent results. These include: the Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) Programme, Women's Empowerment Programme (WEP), and the National Adult Literacy Strategic Investment Plan (NALSIP).[3][41] Some results prove that these programmes have bettered the living conditions of women, as they have increased influence in decision making, greater economic accumulation, better self-esteem, and knowledge of their rights in society.[41] However, these results are not widespread; many women do not register for these programmes, especially those in the rural parts of Uganda. The women who do choose to enroll often have low attendance rates or high drop-out rates.[41]

See also


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  2. ^ "Education in Uganda". Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  3. ^ a b Hasaba, Sarah (2014). "Women and Poverty Eradication Efforts in Uganda: Why is Ending Gendered Poverty Still Far-Fetched?". In Falola, Toyin; Abidogun, Jamaine (eds.). Education, Creativity, and Economic Empowerment in Africa. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 43–52. ISBN 978-1-137-43849-2.
  4. ^ a b Stasavage, David (2005). "The Role of Democracy in Uganda's Move to Universal Primary Education" (PDF). The Journal of Modern African Studies. 43 (1): 53–73. doi:10.1017/S0022278X04000618. JSTOR 3876259. S2CID 15216417.
  5. ^ Javira, Ssebwami (2021-02-05). "10 important facts to know about education in Uganda". UgStandard. Retrieved 2021-02-05.
  6. ^ Ssebwami, Javira (2021-02-05). "Status of primary education in Uganda". UgStandard. Retrieved 2021-02-05.
  7. ^ "CIA World Fact Book, 2004/Uganda", Central Intelligence Agency of the United States, 1 January 2003
  8. ^ a b c d Ngaka, Willy1 (December 2006). "Co-operative Learning in a Universal Primary Education System". International Journal of Learning. 13 (8): 171–178.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ a b c d Moyi, Peter1, (August 2013). "Primary School Attendance and Completion Among Lower Secondary School Age Children in Uganda". Current Issues in Education. 16 (2): 1–16.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ Ssebwami, Javira (2021-02-05). "Status of primary education in Uganda". UgStamdard. Retrieved 2021-02-05.
  11. ^ a b Kakuru, Doris M.1 (June 2007). "HIV/AIDS, Children's Rights and Gender Equality in Uganda's Universal Primary Education". International Journal of Learning. 14 (2): 137–148. doi:10.18848/1447-9494/CGP/v14i02/45193.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Ssebwami, Javira (2021-02-02). "Education in Uganda". UgStandard. Archived from the original on 2021-02-06. Retrieved 2021-02-06.
  13. ^ "Lower Secondary Curriculum Reform | National Curriculum Development Centre". Retrieved 2020-06-01.
  14. ^ independent, The (2012-10-31). "Bad news for new curriculum". The Independent Uganda. Retrieved 2020-06-01.
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  18. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2017-10-14. Retrieved 2013-04-13.
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  24. ^ Tembe, Juliet (2006). "Teacher Training and the English Language in Uganda". TESOL Quarterly. 40 (4): 857–860. doi:10.2307/40264317. JSTOR 40264317.
  25. ^ a b Kate Bird and Kate Higgins (2009) Conflict, education and the intergenerational transmission of poverty in Northern Uganda London: Overseas Development Institute
  26. ^ Musika, Wilber Roberto (2019). "Universal Primary Education and the Uganda's Economy" (PDF). Department of Education.
  27. ^ Jones, Shelley Kathleen (July 2011). "Girls' secondary education in Uganda: assessing policy within the women's empowerment framework". Gender and Education. 23 (4): 385–413. doi:10.1080/09540253.2010.499854. ISSN 0954-0253.
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