Uganda´s Educational System
Compulsary education: entitlement and reality
Many children and adolescents are denied the opportunity of a proper education. Children under 15 years of age are generally entitled to attend school. Each national has the right to demand seven years of education. Hence, sometimes adults who have been denied this right during their childhood can be seen hitting the books again. Basically the attendance of primary school is exempt from charges. Nevertheless, many children are unable to attend school, sometimes because they have to contribute to making a living or take care of their younger siblings, sometimes because their families just cannot procure the money needed for additional costs of school attendance.
A school day in Uganda is quite long for the pupils. Distances of up to an hour of walking have to be covered to reach school. Classes start at 8 o´clock and the pupils attending higher classes often have to be there an hour earlier for learning. Classes end between 4 and 5 pm. Back home the school uniform has to be washed and the shoes need to be cleaned. After doing the household chores homework has to be done before the children can have dinner.
In a country like Uganda where half of the population is younger than 14 years of age the educational system is of particular significance. But it equals a pyramide with a wide basis which is becoming really narrow very quickly as it rises. Only a vanishing minority will reach the top of the educational system and be able to attend university.
The school year is devided into three parts (terms) and it ends in December.
The pupils are given a certificate after each term, the third certificate is ruling about promotion. The school fees have to be paid at the beginning of each term.
• duration: 3 years
• ages: from 3 to 6 years
Nurseries are not spread all over the country, in many regions, especially the rural areas, there are no nurseries.
• duration: 7 years
• ages: from 6 to 13 years
• school fees: officially none
• certificate: PLE (primary leaving examinations), entitles to attend Secondary
• duration: 6 years ( 4 years of basic level, 2 years of advanced level)
• ages: 13 to 19
• school fees: from 5 € to 90 € (publicly-maintained schools)
• certificate: O-level after 4 years (S4)
A-level after 2 more years leads to UACE (Uganda Advanced Certificate ofEducation), entitles to attend university
General compulsory education since 1997 (primary school), each national is entitled to
demand 7 years of education.
In principle publicly-maintained primary schools are free of charge. Still the families are often charged extra payments whenever the government neglects its duties. Even if the attendance is really free of charge many children are denied it. The costs for the school uniform and the learning materials often exceed the families´ budgets by far. Very often the child´s manpower is needed at home.
School fees from 5 € to 90 € - depending on quality and place of location - have to be paid (schools in towns are more expensive than those in rural areas).Of course private schools are a lot more expensive (from 50 € to 200 €).
Very few families are able to afford the school fees. Hence most pupils have to leave school after 7th class. In total less than 15 percent are attending secondary school.
Private Schools and Church-related Schools:
Besides the publicly-maintained schools there are, of course, private schools, mission schools and boarding schools which are offering a high standard of education. However, these schools are unattainable to most Ugandans.
School enrolment figures: 80 to 100 pupils per class are very common
Poor education of teachers
Teachers´ low wages: due to low monthly wages of 50 € to 80 € the teachers´ motivations often leave a lot to be desired which is, in turn, reflected in a poor quality of tuition.
School fees: the school fees and the learning materials are unattainable to most Ugandans.
Accessibility: all too often schools can be reached by marching for hours only, especially in rural and remote areas.
Infrastructural problems: many a time school buildings are in bad condition, facilities are desolate and hardly any teaching materials are available.
Many secondary pupils are living in boarding schools in order to have a better chance of preparing for their examinations.
Their families have to raise 200 € to 400 € per annum for school fees. Additional to high acquisitions costs for necessary equipment (mattress, bed sheet, blanket, mosquito net, washing and sanitary articles, washbowl, bucket, canister, dinner set, suitcase - mostly a metal box - with lock, 2 school uniforms, partly private clothes, notebooks, pens, biro, materials for maths such as set square, a pair of compasses and others plus about 4 kg of sugar per term) some extra money for school supplies and fresh fruit is needed.
Despite the high charges there is no luxury in these boarding schools. Usually shabby nissen huts are used as dormitories for more than 100 children. One try-storey bunk bed is standing next to the other with hardly any room in between. Actually there are no tables, chairs or wardrobes at hand, each pupil is keeping his personal belongings in a suitcase or box under or in his bed.
Clothes lines are hanging throughout the hall for drying the hand-washed clothes, there is no chance for privacy. Only extremely expensive schools have dining-halls, in ordinary schools the children have to eat on their bed in case of rain.
The school day is filled with classes and obligatory study time from morning until evening.
There is mostly no opportunity for a trip home except during the holiday.