6 Achieve universal primary education

Where we are?

Uganda has been successful in getting more children to go to school as per goal 2. However the quality of education is still a challenge. (UNDP Uganda 2009)

Concerning the net primary enrolment target, Uganda is at 91 percent and has a 9 percent gap left to reach the target.

By 2010, Uganda had 87.4 percent literacy rate of 15-24 year old men and woman

Uganda has made great strides in expanding access to primary education and thus towards the global goal of ensuring that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. Since the introduction of Universal Primary Education (UPE) in 1997, enrolment in primary education tripled from about 2.7 million in 1996 to 8.2 million in 2009. The Net Enrolment Ratio (NER), which is a key MDG indicator and measures the share of children in school-going age who are actually in school, has hovered above 90% in recent years, close to the 100% needed to meet the MDG.

However, the other key MDG indicator, the proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach the last grade of primary school, referred to as the completion rate, remains low. To address the problem of non-completion of school, the Government in recent years has adopted numerous quality initiatives, policies and curricula reform. These include a revised lower primary thematic curriculum in 2007, which focuses on literacy, numeracy and life skills and teaches through the medium of local languages, and a revised upper primary curriculum. Other key initiatives include customised performance targets for head teachers and deputy head teachers to ensure compliance with set school management standards, and the introduction of basic child-friendly standards for schools through revised Basic Requirement Minimum Standards.

Since 2005, the difference in primary school NER between boys and girls has been growing and NER in 2009 was 96% for boys and 90% for girls. Conversely, the difference in the completion rate between the sexes has narrowed in recent years. The main reason for this appears to be a fall in the completion rate for boys, especially after 2004. Between 2004 and 2005, the completion rate for boys fell by a quarter, from 72% to 54%. Between 2004 and 2006, though, the completion rate for girls also fell rapidly, from 54% to 42%.

The NDP attributes the decline in completion rate to a rise in class repetition and school drop-outs. Another key reason is that, with the introduction of UPE in 1997, the number of children enrolled increased considerably. This led to very large classes and poorer education. Consequently, a significant percentage of this cohort entering under UPE in 1997 did not complete primary school, which affected completion rates, particularly around 2004/2005. Survey data indicates that higher enrolment has increased literacy. Indeed, the literacy rate among 15 to 25-year-old children and youth increased from 81% in 2002/2003 to 88% in 2008. Although the literacy rate is slightly higher for men (90%) than for women (87%), this gap has narrowed substantially in recent years.

UNDP's work in Uganda

Targets for MDG2
  1. Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling
    • Net enrolment ratio in primary education
    • Proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach last grade of primary
    • Literacy rate of 15-24 year-olds, women and men