A brief overview of Ugandan Education System
The structure of Uganda's education system dates back to the colonial era. It had been in place since the early 1960s. It comprises of seven (7) years of primary education, four (4) years of lower secondary schooling and subsequent two (2) years of upper secondary education. After this basic schooling, one follows a three (3) to five (5) years of university education or a two (2) to three (3) years of tertiary institution.
On successful completion of primary school cycle, a student can either join lower secondary schooling or take a three (3) year craft course in a technical school. According to Uganda Ministry of Education and Sports, about 40 percent of primary school graduates join lower secondary schools. The rest of the students either drop out of formal schooling or join craft course.
Since 1997, Uganda introduced a Universal Primary Education (UPE), a government run program intended to provide free primary education. Unfortunately, UPE is only free in paper. In reality, however, schools still charge extra money as fees. This makes many children especially those in rural communities in the country still unable to attend schools. In addition to charging fees, children also have to provide their own scholastic materials, school uniforms and other requirements that the schools may demand. For children living in some communities, schools are a long walking distance.
Most Government-run schools are often poorly funded with an average class size of over 100 students/pupils. This makes less talented and special-needs students unable to get the necessary help to cope with the classes and feel comfortable learning with the rest of the their classmates. In the end, these students/pupils feel left behind and in most cases, drop out of school.
There are a number of privately owned schools that provide a relatively higher quality of education with smaller class sizes. Some schools also have boarding sections where children report to school at the beginning of school terms and return home for holidays during the end of school terms. In most of these private and/or boarding schools, qualities are better with attention tailored to the needs of individual children to help them learn better. However, this always come with a high price which makes many families unable to afford to support their children through such systems.
An academic year consists of three (3) terms. At the end of each term, students do examinations to monitor their progress. The final examinations at the end of Third term assesses students' ability to progress to the next class or repeat the same class. The school year begins in early February and ends in early December. The curriculum in Uganda mostly consists of examinable subjects of Mathematics, English, Science and Social Students (including religious education). Schools also teach non examinable subjects such as Physical Education (PE), Agriculture, Fine Art, Language (Mother tongue), Music and others. In Secondary schools, students study more subjects.
Although Uganda has over 30 different languages, english is the official language of instruction used in schools. Although learning english can be a real challenge for some children, using english in schools help the children from different tribal backgrounds and languages communicate among each other and feel a sense of unity.