Education in Uganda


Country profile

Uganda is a land locked country located to the eastern part of the African continent, having a total surface area of 241,039 square kilometres.  It is bordered by Sudan to the north, Kenya to the east, Tanzania to the south, Rwanda to the southwest and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west. It lies 200m above sea level between latitudes 4°12′ to the north and 1°9′ to the south of the equator and between longitudes 29°34′ and 35°0′ to the east of the Greenwich Meridian.

As a result of its location and altitude, Uganda’s climate is characterized by two alternating climatic seasons, namely, the wet and dry part of the year.  Central, eastern and western parts of the country have two rainy seasons a year, with the March May one being heavy rains and the September – December one being light rains.  As one heads towards the northern part of the country, the rains decrease with one rainy season being experienced a year.

The variations in soil fertility between the country’s regions causes the vegetation cover also to vary between these regions.  The central and western axes of the country have more fertile soils and thus have mainly the tropical rain forest vegetation, while eastern and northern parts have Savannah Woodlands and Semi-Desert type of vegetation.

These geographical factors condition the socio-economic potential and population carrying capacities of the various regions within Uganda.  This has direct implications on the financing of education.  The ragged terrain of areas like Karamoja in North Eastern area, Sebei in Eastern area and Kisoro, Kabale and other such mountainous areas in Western Uganda impairs accessibility to education facilities.

Uganda attained her independence from the British on the 9th 0f October 1962, and since then Uganda has witnessed dramatic changes in her political system.

The changes in political policies were accompanied by changes in socio- economic policy framework. However the political turmoil of 1971-1985 negatively impacted on the Ugandan economy leading to a decline in GDP, decline in agricultural and industrial output, a deterioration in export performance, high rates of inflation, widespread poverty and poor health services.

This decline was closely associated with the managerial vacuum created by the expulsion of Asians in 1972, economic mismanagement of the 70s and 80s and the ensuing civil unrest.

Soon after the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government came to power in 1986, and in concert with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other development partners, it embarked on the process of extricating Uganda’s economy from institutional poverty and reverse the process of retrogression. The government executed a number of reformist programmes including the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPS), the Decentralisation, the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP), the Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF), the civil service reform, and Universal Primary Education (UPE).

Demographics*:

Total population:
29 898 598 (2006)
Annual population growth:
3.5% (2005)
Rural population:
87.4% (2005)

*latest data as of March 2009 from UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

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Education Fact Sheet

Minister of Education & Sports: Hon. Namirembe BITAMAZIRE

Education System: 7-4-2

Uganda’s current structure of education system is a four-tier model, and it has been in existence since the publication of the Castle Commission report (1963). It consists of seven years of primary education, followed by a four-year cycle of lower secondary, a two-year cycle of upper secondary (7-4-2), after which there is two to five years of tertiary education.  There is also a two-year pre- primary stage of education attended by three to five year olds before joining primary school. The education structure and the opportunities for progression have been shown in the table below.

The structure of Uganda’s education system

Education level

Cycle

Award

Progress opportunities

Pre- Primary

2 Years

1. Primary Education

Primary Education

7 Years

Primary Leaving Examination (PLE)

1. Lower Secondary (O’ Level)
2. Technical school

Lower Secondary
(Ordinary Level)

4 Years

Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE)

1. Upper Secondary (A’ Level)
2. Primary Teachers College
3. Technical Institute
4. Other Departmental Training Institutes.

Technical School

3 Years

Certificate

1. Technical Institute

Upper Secondary
(Advanced Level)

2 Years

Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE)

1. University
2. Uganda College Of Commerce
3. National Teachers College
4. Uganda Technical College
5. Other Departmental Training Institutes

Primary Teachers College

 2 Years

Certificate

1. National Teachers College

Technical Institute

 2 Years

Certificate

1. Uganda Technical College

Uganda College of Commerce

2/3 Years

Diploma

1. University

National Teachers College

2 Years

Diploma

1. University

Uganda Technical College

2 Years

Diploma

1. University

University

3/5 Years

Diploma/Degree

1. Post Graduate Studies

Note: The Examining Body is Uganda National Examination Board (UNEB).
Source: Ministry of Education and Sports (Government White Paper on Education).

Management and Administration of Education

The civil service structure in Uganda has been transformed from being a highly centralized traditional civil service model, into a decentralized structure with most of the authority and resources now being devolved to the districts.   This provides for a more accountable and responsive provision of basic services to the population, including education.

The management and provision of basic education is now largely in the hands of the district administration, while the centre remains responsible for policy control and maintenance of standards through control of teacher education, curriculum and examinations.  This enhances flexibility, transparency & accountability.  It can also allow local administrators to be creative in seeking solutions to problems that are unique to their localities.

The overall responsibility for development in the education sector lies with the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES), under the leadership of a full Minister of Education assisted by 3 Ministers of State responsible for Primary Education, Higher Education and Sports respectively.

The MoES has seven technical departments headed by Commissioners.  All Commissioners, except that of Education Planning, are supervised by and answerable to the Director of Education.  The departments are:

  1. Pre-primary and Primary Education
  2. Secondary Education
  3. Technical, Vocational and Business Education
  4. Higher Education
  5. Special Education and Career Guidance
  6. Teacher Education
  7. Education Planning

In addition, there are support sections operating under the leadership of the Under Secretary Finance and Administration who reports directly to the Permanent Secretary.  The sections include Accounts, Personnel and Administration.  There are also semi- or fully autonomous institutions under the Ministry.  These are the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC), the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB), the Education Standards Agency (ESA), Makerere University, the Education Service Commission (ESC), Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST), Gulu University, Kyambogo University and the National Health Service Training Colleges.

The Director of Education, the Under Secretary and the Commissioner of Education Planning, report to the Permanent Secretary who is the accounting officer and overall supervisor of the education sector.

See the SACMEQ report for more information.

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Uganda – Reading and Math Achievement Levels

SACMEQ II (2000) Reading achievement

  • Percentage of Grade 6 pupils at each level:
Level 1 Pre Reading 7.2 %
Level 2 Emergent Reading 18.3 %
Level 3 Basic Reading 21.8 %
Level 4 Reading for Meaning 21.5 %
Level 5 Interpretive Reading 14.8 %
Level 6 Inferential Reading 8.2 %
Level 7 Analytical Reading 5.3 %
Level 8 Critical Reading 2.9 %

SACMEQ II (2000) Math achievement

  • Percentage of Grade 6 pupils at each level:
Level 1 Pre Numeracy 5.4 %
Level 2 Emergent Numeracy 33.4 %
Level 3 Basic Numeracy 31.6 %
Level 4 Beginning Numeracy 12.3 %
Level 5 Competent Numeracy 6.0 %
Level 6 Mathematically Skilled 5.5 %
Level 7 Concrete Problem Solving 5.2 %
Level 8 Abstract Problem Solving 0.6 %

For more country statistics, see also:

  • StatPlanet – Explore data through Maps and Graphs

SACMEQ Indicator

PUPIL PERFORMANCE ON ALL ITEMS
SACMEQ II
READING
MATHEMATICS
REGION
MEAN
SE
MEAN
SE
CENTRAL
491.8
15.23
526.6
21.76
EASTERN
492.3
10.73
517.3
13.94
NORTHERN
468.4
6.92
485.4
20.71
SOUTH WEST
482.6
20.55
505.4
17.37
WESTERN
457.3
11.32
465.4
9.06
UGANDA
482.4
6.12
506.3
8.17
SUB-GROUPS
READING
MATHEMATICS
MEAN
SE
MEAN
SE
GENDER
BOYS
479.6
5.71
508.1
7.62
GIRLS
485.9
8.31
504.0
11.46
SOCIO-
ECONOMIC LEVEL
LOW SES
472.3
5.84
496.3
9.21
HIGH SES
495.5
8.49
519.2
10.52
SCHOOL LOCATION
ISOLATED/RURAL
475.0
6.69
498.5
8.70
SMALL TOWN
508.8
16.94
544.4
26.15
LARGE CITY
520.9
30.76
508.6
21.90
UGANDA
482.4
6.12
506.3
8.17

SACMEQ Reports

  • SACMEQ II Report:
Year
Authors
Title
2005

Byamugisha, A., & Ssenabulya, F.

The SACMEQ II Project in Uganda: A Study ofthe Conditions of Schooling and the Quality of Education. Harare: SACMEQ.

Research Papers and Theses

Year
Author(s)
Title
2009
Ibrahim Kasirye
Determinants of learning achievement in Uganda. CSAE Conference 2009, Economic Development in Africa, 22nd – 24th March 2009, St Catherine’s College, Oxford
2008
Tia Linda Zuze
Equity and Effectiveness in East African Primary Schools. Doctoral Thesis, Department of Economics, University of Cape Town, South Africa.
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