The school system

The roots of the Ugandan school system lie embedded in the time of British colonialism. Most common are day schools, where often enough, an extremely long way to school is something taken for granted. Though primary and secondary school is lawfully compulsory, the law’s enactment is largely ignored. All inhabitants have the right to attend school for seven years, even those who never went as children. In 1997 a law was enacted that enabled up to four children per family to attend primary school without cost. This led to a marked and still growing increase in elementary school attendance.

Though most parents would like to send their children to school, regular attendance is often impossible. For one reason, children are often necessary to contribute to the family’s living costs, and also must watch over younger siblings. Another reason is that while school is nominally free, the costs of uniforms, books, and other school materials, often go beyond the family’s financial capability.

From secondary school onward, education must be privately financed—a huge challenge for most families. Nonetheless, many families rise to this challenge, resulting in an upsurge of student attendance in secondary or high schools.

The school system is divided as follows:

  • 7 years primary school 
  • 4 years secondary school I with O-Level (ordinary level) culmination 
  • 2 years secondary school II with A-Level (advanced level) culmination
    (necessary to be considered for a UECD Stipend)
  • 3 to 5 year professional career at a University or Polytechnic

With the completion of secondary I, it is possible to enter an apprenticeship, similar to the practice here in Switzerland.

Approximately a quarter of the students with a completed secondary Level II, proceed to the next Level of beginning a professional career.

The professional career study can consist of the following:

  • state or private university
  • teachers college
  • business school (college of commerce)
  • technical college
  • Uganda Polytechnic (state-run)
  • diverse facilities for health related careers, with diploma at completion
  • career specific school with diploma at completion

For those students who do not receive a stipend, the financial burden of a completed study is a tremendous hurdle. Many of the young women and men who successfully apply for further education cannot continue due to lack of funds.

The following comparisons show why this is so:

One semester B & A - Business and Administration - costs as much as a year’s salary for a worker in a coffee factory.

One semester of Legal Studies costs about three times what a medical doctor would earn in a month.

These facts make it clear why a UECD stipend is so valuable and so necessary.