- Volle klaslokalen zijn ook niet alles [Beyond primary: Lessons learnt from a ‘successful’ country in Africa]
- Book title
- Heilige Huisjes: anders kijken naar internationale samenwerking
- Number of pages
- IS Academie & Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Uganda, the pearl of Africa, takes great pride in its Universal Primary Education (UPE) system. In 1996, the government pledged to pay the tuition fees of four children per family, later extending this pledge to all children enrolled at government-aided schools. Over the following decade, dramatic increases were recorded in access to primary education. Uganda thus came very close to achieving universal enrolment and gender parity. Many refer to Uganda as a success story, an exceptional case in a continent which has some of the lowest enrolment rates and largest gender disparities in the world.
However, since UPE’s primary objective is access to primary education, it has overshadowed issues relating to educational quality. Consequently, as some recent studies have revealed, the quality of education has declined, raising serious concerns among policymakers, educationalists and parents. There is indeed a widespread perception among Ugandans, particularly among parents, that the quality of education has suffered because of UPE. This has weakened parental confidence in education. Furthermore, despite rising numbers of primary school graduates, places at post-primary level remained limited. Therefore, as many Ugandans acknowledge, ‘lack of a future after UPE’ remains a deterrent to participation in primary education. The Ugandan experience offers many lessons to other developing countries, illustrating the importance of mobilising political will, national commitment and resources to achieve educational goals. Yet it also demonstrates that, unless simultaneous measures are taken to improve educational quality and expand educational opportunities at post-primary level, a focus on access to primary education may yield only limited results. Furthermore, vital interactions and synergies exist between various education subsectors, and a focus on one sub-sector may well limit the benefits of such synergies. A holistic understanding of the education system and prioritisation beyond primary level will be vital if these concerns are to be adequately addressed.
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