In Uganda many people are competing for a limited number of good jobs, and without a decent education it is very hard to get one or have the confidence to initiate your own business
Getting access to education in the first place can be a huge challenge. In 1997 the Ugandan government introduced universal primary education (the idea that all children should be able to attend primary school for free) and in 2007 universal secondary education. Unfortunately the demand for free education outstrips the availability of places at the free government schools. It is not uncommon for classes to have well over one hundred students, with very little in the way of facilities, and demotivated, over-worked teachers heading them. This means that for most of the population, especially those who want a higher quality education, the only other option is private school. Paying school fees is beyond the means for families suffering from extreme poverty This means that many children are left sitting at home. However, matters are made worse by the fact that at there are many extra school requirements to pay for on top of fees. From school books to uniforms and smart shoes, each child must turn up at the gates with everything asked of them, or else risk they are sent back home.
The Ugandan Education System
The Ugandan school year starts in February and finishes in December. The first term runs from February to April, the second term from May until early August, and the third term from September to December. The Ugandan Education system follows a fairly similar pattern to that in Britain. Children are in primary school for seven years (Primary 1- Primary 7), and then continue through secondary school for the next six years (Senior 1- Senior 6). Classes in Uganda are not based on age because a lot of children drop out and re-enter school based on whether or not they can afford to pay the school fees. This means that the children might be in classes with students who are a lot older or a lot younger than them. Whilst this may seem strange, it is of no consequence, as the most important factor is that they all want to learn.
The Ugandan school system is very competitive. There are so many children who want an education, that schools all over the country are able to pick and choose the best students in order to improve their grade average and national standing. Testing is relentless for students, as every term they have to take exams as well as having ongoing assessments of their performance; based on their results they are given a grade and a position in their class. If the child is successful, they can move in to the next school year in the New Year. However, if their performance is poor they may have to repeat the school year again
Classes in Uganda are not based on age because a lot of children drop out and re-enter school based on whether or not they can afford to pay the school fees. This means that the children might be in classes with students who are a lot older or a lot younger than them. Whilst this may seem strange, it is of no consequence, as the most important factor is that they all want to learn!
If you were to ask children in Uganda if they would prefer to go to boarding school or day school, the answer would almost always come back as boarding school. In Ugandan boarding schools, children are provided with a much better education, as students get to receive extra classes in the evenings. It is hard to be a teacher in Uganda, as you are generally faced with such large class sizes and poor resources that it is incredibly difficult for you to give one-to-one attention to those students who need it most. When the day-school pupils go home after classes, the teachers are at last able to work on a more individual basis with the boarders.
Improving Educational Opportunities
Schools in Uganda face huge challenges due to their lack of facilities. This makes it far harder for the children to learn and for the teachers to teach to a reasonable standard. Imagine schools that are often only half built, without textbooks or any kind of teaching aids beyond a blackboard to help stimulate the children’s minds. If a school does improve its facilities, it also has to raise its fees in order to cover the improvement costs.