The education system in Uganda is understandably much different than what we have in the United States. It is based off of the British system of education, as Uganda was a British colony until its independence in 1962. The national language of Uganda, and the language of education, is English. However, many people also use their own tribal language, either in the Bantu, Nilotic, or Central Sudanic language family. Swahili was also approved as the second national language, but it’s more often used in the north, as well as with the military.
The first schooling that children are enrolled in is “baby class,” which is essentially nursery school. Children attend from ages three to six.
After completion of baby class, students enroll in primary school around age five or six. They are in primary school for seven years (Primary 1—Primary 7). At the end of the seven years, the students take their first national exam, the Primary Leaving Examinations, or PLE.
After P1-P7, the student moves on to secondary school, which lasts for six years. The first four years, S1-S4, are known as the “O-level.” At the end of S-4, students sit for the Uganda Certificate of Education, the second national exam.
If students pass their O-levels, they may go on to S-5 and S-6 and sit for the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education, or A-levels.Students who pass their A-levels may choose to attend university or other institutions which award certificates and diplomas. Many wealthier parents choose to send their children overseas for college. Popular universities in Uganda include Makerere University, Mbarara University of Science & Technology, Uganda Christian University, Kampala International University, and Kyambogo University.
In primary and secondary schools, students can either go to day school or boarding school. Most of the students sponsored by Project Have Hope attend boarding school, which they generally prefer to day school as it gives them their own space to concentrate on their studies, distraction-free.
In addition, when a child lives at school, they are not left with the struggle of commuting, which is often an obstacle for many students across Uganda. One of our students, Oketa Jacob says “I think it is better to go to boarding school than day school because of weather changes, road accidents, [etc.]. [It is easier to concentrate] at school rather than home, where power sometimes goes off and reading can be a problem.” Another student, Obiya Solomon, says that he likes boarding school because there is more discipline there than at home, so he can become a better student.