Education in Uganda is taken seriously with the government believing that a well educated population can help the country move forward however, being a poor country, there is inevitably under-investment in the education sector with 3.0139% of GDP in 2020 being allocated to education according to the World Bank collection of development indicators, whereas it's higher at 5.08 % in Kenya, 3.4% in Rwanda and on a par with other neighbouring countries but significantly lower than places such as Nigeria on 7.12% and South Africa on 5% placing Uganda in 165th place out of 198 countries worldwide by spending on education (% of GDP) as determined by the United Nations Development Programme.
Education, which is only compulsory for seven years (6-12yrs old), is run by Uganda's Ministry of Education and Sports. Their mission statement is "to provide for, support, guide, coordinate, regulate and promote quality education and sports to all persons in Uganda for national integration, individual and national development." In reality many poorer communities do not even have schools and those that do exist are managed by the state and supplemented by church and NGO providers as well as private schools for better off families.
Before exploring education in Uganda in further detail, its important to provide a context for that education. Outside of urban areas, most children in Uganda live within families that rely on subsistence farming to survive in mud built huts with no electricity nor running water and where food production and wood gathering for fire takes priority. It gets light at around 7am and darkness falls at about 7pm meaning that homework is not achievable in the dark. Before school most children may have walked many miles to collect water in plastic cans and/or have scavenged for wood to light the evening fire. As such, many are already tired and hungry before the school day commences. One child staff at our sister site www.child-sponsorship.com recently worked with in Uganda, was so sore from carrying wood that he could barely hold a pencil in his hands. There are also many AIDS orphans in Uganda meaning that already large families are further (willingly) "burdened" by coping with other family children, often nieces or nephews and, when children become ill, carers are reluctant to seek medical treatment which while free, a visit to the 'local' hospital which would be many miles walk away, is culturally associated with dying so treatment is often not sought. It is also not uncommon place for children to move between family members who are better able to provide for them, causing disruption in their education at regular intervals.
School ethos is basic with many teachers ill-equipped nor knowledgeable to teach in the classroom. A monthly wage of 40 pounds in non-state schools is normal although in state schools this is much higher. As such, many teachers are very young and unqualified, often 20-23yrs old, who take up teaching because it's available rather than because it's a vocation. This is reflected in the school motto of a municipal school in the south-west town of Mbarara "Sweat for thy bread" ~ meaning that both the staff and children must work for what they get. "He who does not work should not eat." Due to a lack of awareness by staff, for example, one 15yr old student at a rural school knew all about the issues in Syria and Libya yet didn't know the UK and USA were two separate countries with an ocean between them, had no idea what an airplane looked like and was being taught the the UK was going to steal recently discovered Ugandan oil. Cont/...
Education in Uganda: Volunteer in Uganda
Education in Uganda: Children in Uganda
Education in Uganda: Sponsor a Child in Uganda
Education in Uganda: Uganda Country Profile
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