The Ugandan Educational System

Let's look at the Ugandan educational system a little more closely, for the purpose of understanding the need for help from concerned and compassionate people like you and me.

Since 1960, a child in Uganda, who gets a full, complete education, attends seven years of primary school, then six years of secondary school (also known as high school in North America), but that is divided into four years of lower secondary, and two years of upper secondary school.

Like as in Europe, there is a turning point after the four years of lower secondary, when they either choose a trade, or go on to prepare for university. The two upper secondary years would do the latter.

If the student goes on to university, depending on the courses taken, they would be there for another three to five years.

Primary Education in Uganda

The number of children taking a primary education climbed dramatically in 1997 when the Ugandan government offered a free education to a maximum of four children in any family. Just imagine the heart-breaking deliberations in some families where there are more than four children and some get left out. Usually it will be an orphaned neice or nephew who must work at the family chores, and sometimes a job, but cannot get to learn to read and write like the other children.

No child can move on to secondary school without passing the Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE).

In Northern Uganda, which is still recovering from their war, the government's efforts to make at least a primary education universal has put a lot of children into schools. However, the quality is pathetic. In one area in the northern part, 47 out of 238 primary schools are still conducted under a tree, by one teacher using a lecture method. True, it's better than nothing, but --

What is more, teachers are hard to find, and those who are brave enough to come into the northern area from the south have difficulties finding accommodations, and are often absent. Where there are larger schools, such as in the cities, the ratio is often one teacher to 200 students. There is definitely room for improvement!

Secondary Education and Alternatives in Uganda

Employment opportunties for those who complete their primary education and pass that 'Primary Leaving Exam' have shown to be about the same as for those who had no education at all. This seems to prove that a secondary education is necessary to break out of their cycle of poverty.

There is an alternative for the lower secondary school, in a three year technical school, but those who graduate from the four years of lower secondary school, can proceed with four new choices;

1. A techinical institute for two to three years.
2. A Primary Teacher College for two years. (PTC)
3. A Department Training College (DTC)
4. Upper Secondary school for another two years to prepare for university.

Post-Secondary Education in Uganda

This is not so easy either. While 60,000 to 70,000 may graduate any given year from the secondary school's sixth year, ready for university, there are only 25,000 openings at the university level institutions. Less than half, maybe 35% can make the cut.

Makerere University in Kampala (MUK) ends up with about 95% of those students. The other 5% go to any of about 20 private universities or non-university institutions. Likely Bible schools or seminaries.

As you can imagine those parents who have exceptionally bright children, able to do well scholastically, will often work hard to get their children into a school abroad.

It is good to see that the Ugandan government sees the value of improving education in their country, and making it available to all, but it will still take a few years to bring up the standards, and offer more openings, in more schools and post-secondary institutions.

We encourage you to pray about what you can do to help the most with the best you can give or do.

Please take time to read the profiles of our girls - waiting for their education in Uganda.

Books for You

Rev. Isaac Peter Okayo has written two books that can be of great help to you!

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