Education in Uganda

Last updated
Students in Uganda. Uganda students.jpg
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, according to Education News Uganda 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. [1] 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. [2]


Primary education

The headmaster of Nsaasa Primary School answers a question for a USAID worker. UgandaHeadmaster.jpg
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 great popular support for free education. [3] Despite its promising boosts in enrolment, issues with funding and organisation have continued to plague the UPE. [4] [3] 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. According to Education News Uganda, one of the authoritative publications in Uganda, only some of primary school graduates go on to take any form of secondary education. [5]

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. [6] 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. [7] The United Nations characterised the current condition of Uganda with its unstable government and struggling people as "the world’s worst humanitarian crisis." [8]

Community school at Kolir (Bukedea District) Community school at Kolir.jpg
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 [9] . 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. [7] 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. [7] 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. [7] 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. [8] 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. [10] 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. [10] The large number of pupils worsens the learning environment and 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. [8] 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." [8]

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. [11] 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 [12] [13] .

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

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 per cent of them (at most 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 95 percent of the total student population in Uganda's universities. The remainder are distributed among the more than 20 private universities and a smaller number of non-university institutions. Recognised universities in Uganda include:

Government universities

Religious-affiliated universities

Private secular universities

Vocational and technical education

Ugandan Schools and Workplace training incorporate computer skills Computers in Uganda (5348555011).jpg
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." [18] 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. [18]

Literacy programs

Young mothers receive communal based informal education Parent's receive education.JPG
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. [19] 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, [20] and literacy retention for graduates have been high. [21] However, these programs face great challenges including lack of funding, social reluctance, and a general lack of appreciation for literacy and literature. [22] [21]

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. [23] 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. [23]

Furthermore, there is some evidence to suggest 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 primary schools are similar to those who did not attend at all. [23] Their region 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 highly concerned about security in the region. [23]

Female education

Young women receiving teacher training Teacher teaching.jpg
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 [24] . This can be attributed to poverty, inadequate infrastructure, social pressures, and early maternity. [25] These barriers continue throughout a woman's life, as one cited challenge to adult females' participation in literacy education in Uganda is home life [24] . A World Bank report found that a significant force in preventing attendance at adult literacy classes was husbands stopping their wives from attending. [21] 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. [26] 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. [27]

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. [28] Uganda received a score of .517 on the UN Development Programme Gender Equality index as reported in the Human Development Report. [26] This measure evaluates the respective equality of women in various dimensions including: health, empowerment, and access to labor market. [29]

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. [30] 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. [30]

In 2007 the government implemented Universal Secondary Education (USE) with research showing that girls secondary public education enrollment rates increased approximately 49%. [31] 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. [31] 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. [32] 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. [32]

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). [2] [33] 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. [33] 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. [33]

See also

Related Research Articles

The education and schools in Africa have changed a lot over time. Ever since it was first introduced to Africa, it has been an important part to the history of the continent. This article describes the problems, technology, history, and other information about the education in Africa.

Education in Kenya refers to the education system in Kenya.

With a growing population, Syria has a good basic education system. Since 2000 the Government of Syria has significantly increased the expenditure on education 1 to 6. In 2002, elementary and primary education were combined into one basic education stage and education was made compulsory and free from grades 1 to 9.

Education in Nigeria

Education in Nigeria is overseen by the Ministry of Education. Local authorities take responsibility for implementing state-controlled policy regarding public education and state schools. The education system is divided into Kindergarten, Primary education, Secondary education and Tertiary education. Nigeria's central government has been dominated by instability since declaring independence from Britain, and, as a result, a unified set of education policies has not yet been successfully implemented. Regional differences in quality, curriculum, and funding characterize the education system in Nigeria. Currently, Nigeria possesses the largest population of out-of-school learning youths in the world.

Education in the State of Palestine overview about the education in the State of Palestine

Education in the Palestinian Territories refers to the educational system in Gaza and the West Bank administered by the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education. Enrollment rates amongst Palestinians are relatively high by regional and global standards. According to a youth survey in 2003, 60% between the ages 10–24 indicated that education was their first priority. Youth literacy rate is 98.2%, while the national literacy rate is 91.1%. Enrollment ratios for higher education were 46.2% in 2007, among the highest in the world. In 2016 Hanan Al Hroub was awarded the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize for her work in teaching children how to cope with violence.

Education in Ghana overview about the education system of Ghana

Education in Ghana was mainly informal, and based on apprenticeship before the arrival of European settlers, who introduced a formal education system addressed to the elites. Pre-Independent Ghana was known as the Gold Coast. The economy of pre-colonial Gold Coast was mainly dependent on subsistence farming where farm produce was shared within households and members of each household specialized in providing their household with other necessities such as cooking utilities, shelter, home, clothing and furnitures. Trade with other households was therefore practised in a very small scale. This has made economic activities in pre-colonial Gold Coast a family institution/customs; family-owned and family-controlled. As such, there was no need for employment outside the household that would have otherwise called for discipline(s), value(s) and skill(s) through a formal education system. Pre-colonial Gold Cost therefore practised an informal education (apprenticeship) until it was colonized and its economy became a hybrid of subsistence and formal economy.

Education in Tanzania is provided by both the public and private sectors, starting with pre-primary education, followed by primary, secondary ordinary, secondary advanced, and ideally, university level education. The Tanzanian government began to emphasize the importance of education shortly after its independence in 1961. Curriculum is standardized by level, and it is the basis for the national examinations. Achievement levels are important, yet there are various causes of children not receiving the education that they need, including the need to help families with work, poor accessibility, and a variety of learning disabilities. While there is a lack of resources for special needs education, Tanzania has committed to inclusive education and attention on disadvantaged learners, as pointed out in the 2006 Education Sector Review AIDE-MEMORE. The government's National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty in 2005 heavily emphasized education and

Education in Jordan Wikimedia list

Jordan prides itself on its advanced education system. Jordanians are well educated since education is considered a core value in Jordanian culture. Jordan has the highest ratio of researchers in Research and Development among all 57 Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states. In Jordan, there are 8060 researchers per million people, higher than the EU average of 6494, and much higher than the world average of 2532 per million.

Education in Lower Dir District in Pakistan.

Education in Ethiopia Overview of education

Education in Ethiopia had been dominated by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church for many centuries until secular education was adopted in the early 1900s. Prior to 1974, Ethiopia had an estimated illiteracy rate well above 90% and compared poorly with the rest of Africa in the provision of schools and universities. After the Ethiopian Revolution, emphasis was placed on increasing literacy in rural areas. Practical subjects were stressed, as was the teaching of socialism. By 2015, the literacy rate had increased to 49.1%, still poor compared to most of the rest of Africa.

Education in Somalia

Education in Somalia refers to the academic system within Somalia. The Ministry of Education is officially responsible for education in Somalia, with about 15% of the nation's budget allocated to scholastic instruction. The breakaway republic of Somaliland maintain its own advanced Ministry of Education.

Education in Mali

Education in Mali is considered a fundamental right of Malians. For most of Mali's history, the government split primary education into two cycles which allowed Malian students to take examinations to gain admission to secondary, tertiary, or higher education. Mali has recently seen large increases in school enrollment due to educational reforms.

Education in Bhutan

Western-style education was introduced to Bhutan during the reign of Ugyen Wangchuck (1907–26). Until the 1950s, the only formal education available to Bhutanese students, except for private schools in Ha and Bumthang, was through Buddhist monasteries. In the 1950s, several private secular schools were established without government support, and several others were established in major district towns with government backing. By the late 1950s, there were twenty-nine government and thirty private primary schools, but only about 2,500 children were enrolled. Secondary education was available only in India. Eventually, the private schools were taken under government supervision to raise the quality of education provided. Although some primary schools in remote areas had to be closed because of low attendance, the most significant modern developments in education came during the period of the First Development Plan (1961–66), when some 108 schools were operating and 15,000 students were enrolled

The State of Kuwait, located at the head of the Persian Gulf, supports an educational policy that seeks to provide opportunity to all children, irrespective of their social class, including children with special needs. Kuwait was ranked 63rd on the Human Development Index report for 2011 by the United Nations Development Programme, placing Kuwait above the regional average.

Female education in Nigeria overview about female education in Nigeria

Women in Nigeria have had various challenges in order to obtain equal education in all forms of formal education in Nigeria. Education is a basic human right and has been recognized as such since the 1948 adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. A positive correlation exists between the enrollment of girls in primary school and the gross national product and increase of life expectancy.

St. Denis Ssebugwawo Secondary School Government-aided day and boarding high school in Ggaba, Kampala District, Uganda

St. Denis Ssebugwawo Secondary School is a Ugandan mixed day and boarding school, located in Ggaba, Kampala District.

Rosemary Nansubuga Seninde, also Rosemary Nansubuga Sseninde, is a Ugandan educator and politician. She is the State Minister for Primary Education in the Ugandan Cabinet. She was appointed to that position on 6 June 2016, replacing John Chrysostom Muyingo who became State Minister for Higher Education. She concurrently serves as the Wakiso District Women's Representative in the Parliament of Uganda.


  1. "Education in Uganda". Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  2. 1 2 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.
  3. 1 2 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.
  4. EDITORIAL, ENU EDITOR | ENU (2020-07-07). "10 important facts to know about education in Uganda". Education News Uganda. Retrieved 2020-07-07.
  5. "Status of primary education in Uganda". Education News Uganda. 2020-05-01. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  6. CIA, "CIA World Fact Book, 2004/Uganda", Central Intelligence Agency of the United States, 1 January 2003
  7. 1 2 3 4 Ngaka, Willy1 (December 2006). "Co-operative Learning in a Universal Primary Education System". International Journal of Learning. 13 (8): 171–178.
  8. 1 2 3 4 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.
  9. "Status of primary education in Uganda". Education News Uganda. 2020-05-01. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  10. 1 2 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.
  11. "Education in Uganda". Archived from the original on 2015-03-24. Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  12. "Lower Secondary Curriculum Reform | National Curriculum Development Centre". Retrieved 2020-06-01.
  13. independent, The (2012-10-31). "Bad news for new curriculum". The Independent Uganda:. Retrieved 2020-06-01.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  14. "Uganda Laden: Victorian High School".
  15. "seat of wisdom sss kasawo, Kampala, Uganda - - Reuniting School Friends". Archived from the original on 2017-08-27. Retrieved 2014-04-23.
  16. Archived July 25, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  17. "". Archived from the original on 2017-10-14. Retrieved 2013-04-13.
  18. 1 2 UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training. "World TVET Database Uganda." UNESCO, 2014.
  19. Twaddle, Michael (2011). "Some Implications of Literacy in Uganda". History in Africa. 38: 227–255. doi:10.1353/hia.2011.0009. JSTOR   41474551.
  20. EDITORIAL, ENU EDITOR | ENU (2020-07-07). "10 important facts to know about education in Uganda". Education News Uganda. Retrieved 2020-07-07.
  21. 1 2 3 The World Bank. "Adult Literacy Programs in Uganda." The World Bank, 2001.
  22. Tembe, Juliet (2006). "Teacher Training and the English Language in Uganda". TESOL Quarterly. 40 (4): 857–860. doi:10.2307/40264317. JSTOR   40264317.
  23. 1 2 3 4 Kate Bird and Kate Higgins (2009) Conflict, education and the intergenerational transmission of poverty in Northern Uganda London: Overseas Development Institute
  24. 1 2 Moussa, Wael; Omoeva, Carina (2020-04-22). "The Long-Term Effects of Universal Primary Education: Evidence from Ethiopia, Malawi, and Uganda". Comparative Education Review: 000–000. doi:10.1086/708144. ISSN   0010-4086.
  25. Atekyereza, Peter R. (2001-01-01). "The education of girls and women in Uganda". Journal of Social Development in Africa. 16 (2): 115–146. doi:10.4314/jsda.v16i2.23876. ISSN   1012-1080.
  26. 1 2 "United Nations Girls' Education Initiative - Uganda - Snapshot". UNGEI. Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  27. Masuda, Kazuya (April 2017). "The Effects of Female Education on Adolescent Pregnancy and Child Health: Evidence from Uganda's Universal Primary Education for Fully Treated Cohorts". National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies via IDEAS.
  28. Nishimura, Mikiko; Yamano, Takashi; Sasaoka, Yuichi (2008). "Impacts of the universal primary education policy on educational attainment and private costs in rural Uganda". International Journal of Educational Development. 28 (2): 161–175. doi:10.1016/j.ijedudev.2006.09.017.
  29. "Gender Inequality Index (GII) | Human Development Reports". Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  30. 1 2 Jones, Shelley Kathleen (2011-07-01). "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.
  31. 1 2 Asankha, Pallegedara; Takashi, Yamano (July 2011). "Impacts of Universal Secondary Education Policy on Secondary School Enrollments in Uganda". Journal of Accounting, Finance and Economics. 1: 16–30.
  32. 1 2 "Universal Secondary Education (USE) in Uganda: blessing or curse? The impact of USE on educational attainment and performance". ResearchGate. Retrieved 2019-05-17.
  33. 1 2 3 Ndidde, Alice N. (2004). "Meeting the Needs of the Marginalised in Uganda". In Okech, Anthony (ed.). Adult Education in Uganda: Growth, Development, Prospects and Challenges. Kampala, Uganda: Fountain Publishers. pp. 210–224. ISBN   9970-02-439-6.