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Evolution of our Education under the NRM

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Added 16th February 2018 01:39 PM

When Uganda gained her independence in October 1962, it came with a number of challenges; one of them being the lack of enough qualified personnel to provide services for the country.

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Elizabeth Kabibi works with Government Citizen Interaction Centre, Ministry of ICT and National Guidance

When Uganda gained her independence in October 1962, it came with a number of challenges; one of them being the lack of enough qualified personnel to provide services for the country.

By Elizabeth Kabibi

As schools open for first term, it is important to examine the evolution of the education sector in Uganda.

When Uganda gained her independence in October 1962, it came with a number of challenges; one of them being the lack of enough qualified personnel to provide services for the country.

The other challenge was the need to give confidence to Ugandans that they were capable of solving their own problems. Before independence, Ugandans felt incapable of accomplishing the tasks of sustaining their independence as they were being educated to take the positions of assistants to the European and Asian civil servants and teachers but not to be fully fledged managers of institutions.

Therefore, the education system in Uganda had to be restructured to remove the inferiority feeling from the minds of the Ugandan and African students. In this effort, two important slogans were inaugurated namely "the creation of African identity" and "the development of African personality."

A new structure was then set up to solve the above challenges. Among the changes made were: the Primary school level to last seven years instead of six, the Junior Secondary section of two years was abolished. Also, Teacher Training Colleges for Grade II teachers with primary school education had to be phased out. Courses had to be mounted to upgrade the existing Grade II Primary school teachers to Grade III status among several other reforms.

However; Uganda’s education sector suffered devastating set back in the 1970’s owing to civil war and unrest that characterised the country at the time. School infrastructure was run down and man power lost mainly to brain drain as people fled the country to seek refugee elsewhere. This did not last since the NRM government shortly came to power and suggested reforms to revamp the education system. The programmes that the system came up with were mainly to address issues of easy access to an education for all. This was to do away with inequality among citizens.

A lot of progress has been made over the years, this could be reflected in the; introduction of Universal education, construction of seed schools, introduction of the Students’ Loan Scheme, rehabilitation of the already existing schools and the initiation of several avenues to increase access to education.

The country’s literacy level is currently at 75%, and this is attributed to the expanded education system. Today, we boast of 3,858 secondary schools, 19,718 primary schools, 142 Technical and Tertiary Institutes and 45 Universities. In the year 2016/17, universities produced 17,895 graduates, and the Government is currently providing loans to 3,799 students in higher education under the Students’ Loan Scheme.

Furthermore, the government is continuing with construction works at seven public institutions: Makerere University, Muni University in Arua, Busitema University, Makerere University Business School, Kyambogo University, Mbarara University of Science and Technology and Uganda Management Institute. The construction works, which started in 2016, were done under the Support to Higher Education, Science and Technology (HEST) project to build Uganda’s human capital skills development capacity, particularly in education, science and technology, to respond to labour market demands and spur productivity nationally.

Universal Primary Education (UPE), one of the Government’s main policy tools for eradicating illiteracy and poverty through delivering an education for all was introduced in January 1997. This followed a political commitment by the President, that the Government would meet the cost of primary education for four children per family. But because many parents had more than four children, it was soon extended to allow all pupils access to primary education.

UPE’s main objectives are to provide the facilities and resources to enable every child to enter and remain in school until the primary cycle of education is complete, make education equitable in order to eliminate disparities and inequalities, ensure that education is affordable by the majority of Ugandans and to reduce poverty by equipping every individual with basic skills. Although all these haven’t been wholly achieved, we can confidently say that a big percentage of the citizens have benefited from the project. We recently saw the President presiding over the graduation ceremony of the UPE pioneers.  

Under the UPE programme, the Government abolished all tuition fees and Parents and Teachers Association charges for primary education. Following its introduction, gross enrolment in primary school increased from 3.1 million in 1996 to 7.6 million in 2003. This amounts to an increase of 145% (4.5 million children), compared to an increase of 39% (0.9 million children) between 1986 and 1996.

In 2003, enrolment of girls in primary schools was slightly over 49% of total, falling behind that of boys. This was a significant improvement compared to 44% and 44.5% for 1990 and 1993 respectively. The post UPE period witnessed a narrowing gap between the number of girls and boys enrolled in primary schools.

As we kick start the new term and New Year, I call upon all students to guard jealously their chance to an education, desist from strikes as these lead to destruction of school property. The government has done a lot to put in place these structures for them to perish because of a small mistake by a teacher or head teacher.

The writer works with Government Citizen Interaction Centre, Ministry of ICT and National Guidance

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