In 1997 Uganda launched Universal Primary Education and enrolment leaped from 3.1 million in 1996 to 8.4 million in 2013. Net enrolment raised from 62.3% to 86.5%. For parents and communities within the poor quintile this national policy allowed them an opportunity to have their children in primary school. In record time, numbers in UPE schools soared.  However the UPE is not entirely free and UNESCO estimates that about 68% of children drop out of primary school the cost of stationery, exam fees, uniforms and tuition fees are a challenge for poor parents.
With development of structures and government policies free secondary education was introduced. However, this has shown a direct pressure to learning facilities, quality and even teachers required. Now, there is an observed chance that although access is improved quality has reduced.


School Entrance Age: Primary School- Age 6
Duration and Official Ages for School Cycle
Primary: 7 years- Ages 6-12
Secondary: 6years- Age 13-18
Academic Year Start: February End: December


Nearly 30% of females are out of secondary school compared to 21% males. In Uganda, rural communities misconceptions about female education, empowerment and early marriages are common. 
Other challenges include; poverty, weak school management structures and school learning equipment and materials.

Growth through Learning Activities in Uganda

The regions around Kampala and Entebbe have long served as the nerve centers for learning in Uganda, and Growth Through Learning established its presence in this region in the first years of the organization. More recently, however, Growth Through Learning has worked closely with Sister Salome Nambi, her religious sisters and leadership at our partner schools to provide educational opportunities for girls from the more volatile and remote regions of Uganda.

Karamoja Region is a remote area in Uganda that has tribes that are often at war with on another; Cattle raids and misconceptions about pregnancy and female education exist. The education system in this region has rarely been able to empower young girls to graduate and enter high schools. The long journey from Karamoja to Central means that these students would remain with the Sisters at school during school holidays, but the program immediately had applicants. The Sisters, the schools and Growth Through Learning now make sure that all of our students have the excess funds for transportation and supplies that they need, but the determination of these students and their parents continues to inspire us.

The impact that this program with the girls from Karamoja has allowed;

  • GTL students have been able to create understanding of the capabilities of girls and women and expel myths that hold back efforts to fight disease and violence
  • Also students and school staff within the Central Region have a personal awareness of people and customs within this remote area of the country.

And even more recently, we learned that one of our Karamoja students placed first out of 96 students in her senior class at St. Kizito’s Girls School. Way to go, Sikuku Esther!

With the success of the Karamoja Program Sister Salome is now working on a program for new students within Uganda’s war torn Northern Region and communicating with aid workers &community leaders in other regions where we can have an impact.

Also check out more about our Karamoja Program in our Flickr page under our 5 Cameras project.


For more information and reports on education in Uganda, go to the Uganda page at the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMECQ) website.