Primary Education in Uganda - A Policy Analysis
Over the past five years, Uganda’s education system has proved both effective and successful. Although in the process of further development, it has nonetheless served as a model for many developing African countries. The Ugandan government, with President Yoweri Museveni at its forefront, has determined primary education to be one of the major channels toward poverty eradication and as a vital resource for economic and social development. The Ugandan government has made a national commitment to eradicate illiteracy and educate its citizens through the 1997 initiative, Universal Primary Education (UPE). All levels of government, the private sector, grass-root organizations, local and international non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), community and church leaders, international aid agencies, and international governments have been major players in Uganda’s universal primary education policy and continue to structure the policy in ways to benefit Ugandans, while simultaneously protecting their own interests. Unfortunately with such an enormous national commitment and the underlying interests of the many contributors, there were many shortages in the realistic policy as experienced by Ugandans. I argue that these shortages, which ultimately affect the quality of primary education, can be linked to inadequacies in the deliberations, monitoring, evaluation, and feedback of Ugandan education policy; once these areas are reformed, a more comprehensive education system can be re-established.
Rapid educational expansion has taken place in Uganda since its independence in 1962. Following independence, education was regarded as a means through which individuals could advance in society. Political interests influenced education policy with economic factors largely motivating these influences. As a consequence, policy was adopted that would better Uganda’s financial position, which led to an emphasis of secondary and higher education in order to fill the demand for “high-level” manpower. (Bell, p. 4) The emphasis soon changed as it was realized by the Commission of Education in Uganda in 1965 that the content and structure of primary school education should also be geared toward meeting the economic needs of the country. P. Beghin wrote in Recent Trends in Primary Education Policy in Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, “primary education is no longer regarded as a mere preparation to secondary and higher education. Primary school is, in the view of the Syllabus, a terminal education for a part of the pupils, which at present is actually the majority of them.” (1968, pg. 6) From this time, documented Ugandan education policy on issues such as instructional language, examinations, and scientific literacy was expanded and reformed to include primary education.
During the political turmoil of the 1970s and 1980s when leadership changed hands, the education system suffered, yet functionally operated by...