Quality of basic education

For every child, a quality education

School children do work at desks
UNICEF Uganda/2017/Ntabadde

The situation

All children need access to education but they also need to receive an education of good quality. This is what the right to education is all about.

While the introduction of universal primary education (UPE) in Uganda in 1997 greatly improved access, it did not improve quality. As the student population tripled between 1997 and 2014, more and more children started dropping out. By 2003, only a third of children who had enrolled in primary school in 1997 had reached the seventh grade.

Children drop out or are absent from class for several reasons. Among poor families, the cost of school uniforms, books, stationery, and saving funds becomes too much to bear, pushing children out of school or leading families into debt. Illness and domestic work keep many children from attending school on a regular basis. Children with disabilities, orphans and other disadvantaged children are especially at risk of school exclusion.

Teachers have a great impact on student achievement. But the rampant teacher absenteeism and under-qualification of many teachers spell disaster for children. Less than half of children are literate at the end of primary school. In secondary school, only 15 per cent of students are proficient in biology, 43 per cent in English and 47 per cent in maths. 

The school environment also plays a part in children’s motivation to stay in school and learn. However, violence against children is commonplace in Ugandan schools, including caning and other forms of outlawed corporal punishment. Many children report being abused by a teacher or bullied in school. Male teachers often sexually harass girls.

Infographic - primary education in uganda
Infographic - primary education quality in uganda

UNICEF response

UNICEF is supporting quality education delivery in 30 poorly performing districts and this is being done by:

  • Creating an enabling environment in each district. This means building the capacity of district officials, resolving key bottlenecks to access quality education, and helping plan and coordinate education delivery at district and regional levels.
  • Improving education governance. Mentorship and other approaches are being used to strengthen local accountability and collaborative partnerships between schools, parents and communities. UNICEF will also help to increase public demand for high-quality services in communities. 
  • Bolstering teachers’ competencies and supervision of teachers. UNICEF will support early grade teaching of literacy and numeracy, as well as primary school educators in implementing the Thematic Curriculum. Head teachers will be assisted to regularly supervise and assess teachers.
  • Strengthening the effectiveness of primary schools. Schools will be supported to do regular school performance reviews leading to the development and revision of inclusive school improvement plans.

Expected results:

  • If the target of 75 per cent of female students achieving a minimum level of literacy at the end of Grade 6 is met, over 400,000 more girls will benefit from this critical life skill.
  • If the target of 75 per cent of male students achieving a minimum level of literacy at the end of Grade 6 is met, around 400,000 more boys will benefit from this critical life skill.

I was overjoyed when my uncle told me that I was starting school

Apiyo, 15, an orphan and primary school drop-out who was able to go back to school

#InvestInUGchildren: Realize Uganda's Vision 2040