Education policies in Uganda

  • In 1997, the Universal Primary Education (UPE) policy was launched. It aimed to provide universal primary education for all children. However, due to lack of funds and human resources, its quality is poor.
  • In 2007, Uganda became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to introduce universal secondary education with the Universal Secondary Education policy
  • The current government strategy for education, the Education Sector Strategic Plan 2010-2015, still has universal access to primary education as its highest priority.

Structure of the education system

Primary education lasts seven years (ages 6-12, grades 1-7). Secondary education lasts six years and includes four years of lower secondary (ages 13-16), and two years of upper secondary (ages 16-18).

Challenges to the education system

  • Uganda’s population is growing fast (3.2.% annually) putting more pressure on the already struggling public sector
  • In 2006, 22% of 16-17-year-olds were dropouts, 40% were still in primary school and only 38% completed primary school (UNESCO, 2010)
  • Progression to secondary school is problematic, with enrollments rates at just 19%
  • Headteacher, teacher and student absenteeism are high. Headteacher absenteeism was 21% on the day of the assessment on the status of education in Uganda conducted by ASER in 2011. Although efforts to reduce teacher absenteeism are paying off, still 14% of teachers were absent on the day of the assessment (ASER, 2011).
  • Learning levels are low. In 2011 ASER found nine out of 10 grade 3 students were unable to read a Grade 2 story in English (grade 2 represents basic skills), and one in five were unable to recognize letters of the English alphabet.
  • There are similar findings in reading and mathematics in the 2007 assessment conducted by The Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality. The study found only 10% of grade 6 students could read at the expected level (SACMEQ, 2010