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Education in Uganda

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Education in Uganda

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. The present system has existed since the early 1960s.


  • Primary education 1
  • Secondary education 2
  • International Schools 3
  • Post-secondary education 4
    • Government universities 4.1
    • Religious-affiliated universities 4.2
    • Private secular universities 4.3
    • Public technical colleges 4.4
    • Private technical colleges 4.5
  • Northern Uganda 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Primary education

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

In 1999 there were 6 million pupils receiving primary education, compared to only 2 million in 1986. Numbers received a boost in 1997 when free primary education was made available for four children per family. Only some of primary school graduates go on to take any form of secondary education. This is contingent upon them passing their Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE).

Uganda is one of the East African developing countries, bordered by Tanzania, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and Kenya. It occupies 236, 040 sq/km and has a population of 26,404,543 people; according to CIA World Fact Book 2004, more than 80% of its population is rural and 35% lives below poverty line (Ngaka 172). The United Nations characterized the current condition of Uganda with its unstable government and struggling people as “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis” (Moyi 6). In 1997, the Ugandan government introduced the Universal Primary Education (UPE) program in order to improve the enrollment and attainment in primary schools. 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 a 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 the number of student enrollment in primary schools (Ngaka 172). 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 educational system (Ngaka 172). 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 (173). Uganda has seven years of primary education and the legal age for school entry is six (Moyi 3). According to the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) statistics, the school enrollments increased from 3 million to 5.3 million in 1997 and the number rapidly increased until seven million by 2004 (Kakura 137). Even though the increased number of pupils was perceived as a good thing, there were only 125, 883 teachers, thus breaking the UPE required pupil-teacher ratio of 1:40 (Kakura 138). It is obvious that this large number of pupils makes the learning environment more difficult and it becomes harder for the teacher to be heard and teach the materials. According to Arbeiter and Hartley, not only the classes have between 70-150 pupils, there is also over-aged studying in variety of classes in all schools. Moyi explains the issue of many classes having the inappropriate age of pupils to be driven by the late enrollment 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” (Moyi 66).

Secondary education

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.

The curriculum for lower secondary is currently being reviewed by the National Curriculum Development Center, 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

see List Of International Schools in Uganda

There are several international schools in Uganda.

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 (MUK) has about 95 per cent 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

Public technical colleges

Private technical colleges

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.[5] 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.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8] Special attention to education in the region is required to ensure the fragile peace does not deteriorate into full scale conflict once more.

See also


  1. ^ German Secondary School in Uganda
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Kate Bird and Kate Higgins (2009) Conflict, education and the intergenerational transmission of poverty in Northern Uganda London: Overseas Development Institute
  6. ^ ibid
  7. ^ ibid
  8. ^ Kate Bird and Kate Higgins (2009) Conflict, education and the intergenerational transmission of poverty in Northern Uganda London: Overseas Development Institute

Ngaka, Willy. Co-Operative Learning In A Universal Primary Education System. International Journal Of Learning 13.8 (2006): 171-178. Education Research Complete. Web. 5 Mar. 2014. Moyi, Peter. Primary School Attendance and Completion Among Lower Secondary School Age Children in Uganda. Current Issues in Education 16. 2 (2013) : 1-16. Print. Kakuru, Doris M. "HIV/AIDS, Children's Rights And Gender Equality In Uganda's Universal Primary Education." International Journal Of Learning 14.2 (2007): 137-148. Education Research Complete. Web. 10 Mar. 2014. Omana, Julius. Organisational Culture: Uganda’s Inspectorate Department of Education. International Journal of Educational Administration. Vol 2, Number 1. 73-99. 2010. Print.

External links

  • Education Statistics and Quality of Education in Uganda, Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ)
  • Ministry of Education and Sports, The Republic of Uganda,
  • Education and Sports Sector Fact Sheet 2000 - 2012
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