From the Guardian, writer Jonathan Glennie asks an Ugandan think tank on if universal education is still worth it despite the challenges.
Student pass rates have fallen and rates of transition to secondary school are also sliding. As standards fall in public education, a social divide is emerging between the public and private sectors, with private schools being regarded as offering a significantly better education. According to Lawrence Bategeka, from the Economic Policy Research Centre, a Ugandan thinktank, around 90% of current university students in Uganda were taught in private schools. Moreover, as private schooling is not profitable in rural areas, the urban-rural divide is opening up as well.
I asked Bategeka whether it was a mistake to open the school gates to millions more children when Uganda was obviously not ready to teach them. Wouldn't it have been more sensible to increase enrolment more gradually, in line with the realistic possibilities of infrastructural and teacher development?
Bategeka thinks the policy could have been implemented better, but he does not believe it was a mistake to introduce it. Despite the inevitable concerns about standards, there are still millions of children attending school who otherwise wouldn't have been, which means they are learning, and that the culture of universal education is being ingrained into society for the first time, he says. On the back of the policy, the Ugandan government has now introduced universal secondary education to encourage more pupils to continue their schooling.